Orthodox Anglicans won't leave Church of England

LONDON (Reuters) - Conservative Anglicans, who oppose the Church of England’s stand on issues such as gay clergy, on Monday ruled out formally breaking away from the mainstream as a group has done in the United States.

Members of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), also unhappy at plans to allow the ordination of woman bishops, said they wanted to create an umbrella movement to promote conservative views within the Church.

The movement was formed following a convention last year in Jerusalem where bishops and clergy from around the world met to express frustration at the liberal Anglicanism, raising the prospect of a split with the 77-million-strong Anglican Communion.

“We are a movement for the renewal and reformation and renewed mission focus of our church. We love our church... we’re not going anywhere,” Bishop Wallace Benn of Lewes in southern England said at the launch of the FCA’s UK and Ireland chapter.

“We believe that we stand for the historic Christian faith,” he added.

The FCA claims that it has around 1,600 followers from 320 parishes around the country. The movement said it had received a letter from Queen Elizabeth, expressing her good wishes for its launch.

Benn said he believed that the Church of England and the FCA would engage in dialogue to resolve their differences without having to resort to schism from the church.

Differences over issues such as gay clergy led to conservatives in the United States leaving the U.S. Episcopal Church in June, in a saga which split Anglicans worldwide.

The new Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), which claims it has 100,000 followers, believes that the liberals have strayed far from the Bible.

“We pray that we won’t go the American way. We pray that by the grace of God we will see a renewed church and a revived church and a reformed church here,” Benn said.

Bishops aligned to the movement said the issue was not about homosexuality or the ordination of women, but was about theology and the interpretation of religion.

“If you consecrate woman as bishops or if you don’t consecrate women as bishops you will not endanger your spiritual security,” said Rev. Gregory Venables, a representative of the Anglican Church in South America.

“It’s an issue which ... needs to be talked about so we can find how we can agree to work together because we agree on the salvation issues. The ordination of women is not an issue which will separate us from God,” he said.

Editing by Keith Weir