Former Queen’s Chaplain Gavin Ashenden quits ‘liberal’ Church of England
A former Queen’s chaplain has quit as a Church of England priest after a long-running objection to what he saw as the liberalising trend of the CofE.
Canon Gavin Ashenden made the unusual move of resigning his orders on Friday, Christian Today can reveal, leaving more than 35 years of ordained ministry.
He declined to comment on the move until his six-month waiting time is up.
It comes after the long-standing critic of the Church left his post as Queen’s chaplain in January following a row over a Quran reading in Glasgow Cathedral. The Shropshire-based priest criticised the decision by Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, for inviting a reading from the Islamic holy book at the Epiphany service on January 6.
‘After a conversation instigated by officials at Buckingham Palace, I decided the most honourable course of action was to resign,’ he said at the time pointing to ‘a very important convention that the Queen should not be drawn into publics affairs where she is deemed to be taking a position’.
His decision to leave ministry in the Church could lead others to follow suit. A number of conservative Anglicans have voiced their concern about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for a ‘radical, new Christian inclusion’ after a report maintaining a largely conservative stance on sexuality was rejected by the CofE’s ruling general synod.
‘There is no sign the Church of England is going to reconsider its policy of accommodation with the secular culture,’ Ashenden said in a previous interview with Christian Today. ‘It has abandoned certain key and apostolic norms,’ he added, warning the CofE would collapse within decades because of its refusal to adhere to conservative Christianity.
He contrasted the year-on-year decline in England with the rapidly growing churches in Russia and China and said the difference was they had ‘not made an accommodation with the culture’. He said in the January interview: ‘There are two kinds of Anglicanism. A secular Anglicanism and a traditional biblical Anglicanism. ‘I see myself and others as very soon having to make a choice.’ He described himself as ‘in limbo’ between the CofE and other Anglican churches around the world.
‘I certainly look at worldwide Anglicanism and I associate myself with some parts of the Anglican church that have kept the biblical faith. And I increasingly disassociate myself with parts like the Church of England.’
If this article from the publication ‘CHRISTIAN TODAY’ seems like an explosive burst of conservative annoyance with the current trajectory of the Church of England; then it does reflect a certain minority trend within that Church that has set itself against any openness towards the revision of institutional sexism, Islamophobia, and homophobia that has prevented it from preaching the Gospel of inclusion to people in the modern era.
In his recent diatribe against the Cathedral of St. Mary’s, Glasgow, for allowing a Muslim Quran Reading to take place during a joint service of worship, the Revd. Gavin Ashenden found himself at odds with the Buckingham Palace authorities, causing him to resign his post as a chaplain to the Queen. In his interview with ‘Christian Today’ He makes this observation about his dissatisfaction with the Church of England:
“There is no sign the Church of England is going to reconsider its policy of accommodation with the secular culture. It has abandoned certain key and apostolic norms,’ he added, warning the CofE would collapse within decades because of its refusal to adhere to conservative Christianity.”
Known to be uncomfortable with both women’s ordination and the accommodation of LGBTI people in the Church’s ministry and mission – as well as its openness to dialogue with other religions – Mr. Ashendon seems to be aligning himself with the likes of ACNA and the GAFCON Provinces of the Anglican Communion, whose militant opposition to the more inclusive culture of the Church of England and other Western Provinces of the Church – like TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, who have ordained both women and gay ordinands into their Churches – has led them into a culture of separatism from the Canterbury-led Communion.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand