LONDON - While the leaders of the U.S. extension to the Church of England began closed door sessions aimed solely at “reconciliation” bishops in England worried over the demise of the original Anglican Church, on Friday, March 19, 2004.
The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, has tearing apart at the seams, mostly over the dramatically differing views on homosexuality within its members. While debate on the issue of ordaining homosexual clergy and blessing homosexual couples haunted the denomination for decades, the situation literally exploded last November upon the consecration of an openly gay man as bishop to the U.S. diocese of New Hampshire.
Although many warned of the consecration’s “irrevocable harm,” liberals pushed for the ordination with a slight majority. In turn, 13 conservative archdioceses around the world indignantly severed ties with the Episcopal Church USA, and called on the head of the Anglican Communion to resolve the unacceptable matter at hand.
Even within the U.S., dissenting parishes and diocese formed a Network of conservative parishes of the Anglican Church to rebel against the actions of the national church.
Since Robinson’s consecration, offering and membership in the ECUSA has decreased, and its reverberations have been felt throughout the world, especially in England, the home of the denomination.
"We will, unless there is a turn in the tide, be a church that gradually disappears from this land," Bishop of Manchester Nigel McCulloch was quoted as telling March 20th edition of the Times newspaper.
Noticing the new figures that showed a further decline in the number of Britons attending church, McCulloch warned that the Anglican Church in England could dissappear "within a generation or two" unless it regains its purpose.
According to the recently released UK Christian Handbook, membership at all Christian churches in Britain have fallen to just over 5.5 million by 2005 – a million fewer than 15 years ago.
According to McCulloch, the reason for this decline is simple: the church’s long and bitter debate over homosexual priests and increasing amounts of and secular regulation has blurred the original motive of the Church.
"It is almost as if the Devil is in this. It distracts people from what they are meant to be doing," the bishop told the newspaper.
"Far too many of us are being forced into managing an institution rather than engaging with souls."
The moment an institution took this path, it "has lost its heart, the purpose it was created for", he said.
Oddly, the worldwide body of Anglicans has been consistently growing. Most of the growth, however, has taken place in “the Global South” where sound traditionalist doctrines are still in place and homosexual practices among clergy are not accepted.