6 February 2023

Sorrow for pro same-sex marriage Anglicans as GAFCON leaves Church

Parish of the Parks vicar, the Reverend Sophie Watkins. Picture: supplied.

Jenan Taylor

25 August 2022

Many Anglicans who support same-sex marriage are unmoved at the formation of the new Diocese of the Southern Cross, church leaders say.

Progressive parishioners were focussing on getting on with being the kind of community God wanted, according to some priests.

Parish of the Parks vicar the Reverend Sophie Watkins said her parish’s focus was always about working towards inclusivity.

She said most members were unswerving in their view that the Anglican Church had not split, and that they were prepared to get on with their mission of embracing inclusivity and valuing everyone.

Ms Watkins said there had been many people who’d felt wounded by the Church’s actions over the last few years.

“Whilst there’s been mention of sadness about people choosing to leave the Anglican Church and join the Diocese of the Southern Cross, there have been many who have chosen to stay despite also suffering within the life of the Church,” Ms Watkins said.

Read more: Melbourne Church unlikely to be changed by new Southern Cross denomination: Clergy

She said she felt sorrow for those who had chosen to leave, as well as for those who were hurting but had chosen to remain and and were working to keep an open conversation.

Ms Watkins said her parishioners kept abreast of current events in the Church and were good at having evolving conversations about them if they discerned the need to do so.

St Bartholomew’s Burnley locum Reverend Liam Matthews said the emergence of the new diocese was not an issue that his parish was concerned about.

Mr Matthews said he had read out the Primate Archbishop Geoffrey Smith’s statement in church, and people had spoken about it over coffee afterwards.

He said St Bartholomew’s held a monthly service for gender fluid people, so parishioners had expressed surprise about the breakaway and didn’t understand why it had happened.

But they were unheeded by the issues that the new denomination had highlighted, because they wanted to be welcoming of everyone, he said.

“We wouldn’t want to have a harsh, biblical interpretation that excludes people, because we see the compassion of Christ as one who welcomes and goes out to meet people,” Mr Matthews said.

“We’d be curious about people’s sexuality, but we wouldn’t use that against them, so we’re not really concerned about [GAFCON’s] interpretation of the Scripture.”

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