Cornish Vicar forms ‘New Church’

Vicar’s new church is already being accused of extremism and homophobia


Philip de Grey-Warter is quitting the Church of England to form a new church

Philip de Grey-Warter is quitting the Church of England to form a new church, which residents are concerned will be “homophobic.” (GAFCON/ Vimeo)

A vicar in Cornwall is resigning from the Church of England (CoE) and starting his own church, but local residents are concerned that it will be “extremist” and “homophobic”.

Philip de Grey-Warter announced that on September 29 he will lead his last service as vicar of Fowey, Cornwall, before leaving the Church of England and starting the new church, named “Anchor”, in the same town.

His resignation from the CoE, he said in his announcement, is over the church’s guidelines released in December 2018 and approved by the House of Bishops allowing trans people to be baptised to recognise their transition.

The concerns of local residents are rooted in the fact that De Grey-Warter’s Anchor Anglican Church will operate under the evangelical, anti-LGBT+ organisation GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference).

GAFCON was created in protest when the openly gay former Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, was ordained in 2003.

Speaking to The Irish Times, the Church of Ireland’s Maria Jansson previously said GAFCON used “homophobic and misogynistic rallying calls to gain a base from which they can access C of I governance, resources, parishes, schools and young. This has to be called out for what it is – religious extremism.”

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Demonstrators hold placards as they protest outside Church House, the venue of the Church of England’s General Synod, in London on February 15, 2017.(DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The eighth point of GAFCON’s Jerusalem statement, in which is summarises its beliefs, is: “We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family.”

One Fowey resident told CornwallLive: “I am not a church-going Christian, but I do understand that Jesus’ message was one of love and acceptance for all – not discrimination in any way, shape or form.

“The GAFCON view that being gay is an illness which can be cured is deeply damaging and has no place in modern Britain. I hope the people of Fowey will not consider GAFCON views acceptable in our town or our schools.”

De Grey-Warter said: “I believe Jesus says what he means and means what he says. So my job as a minister is not like a chef, concocting or inventing the meal, but more like a waiter, serving up what the chef has already provided.

“I am not at liberty to rearrange the plate or add ingredients because of fashion or remove elements because someone somewhere thinks they’re challenging or unpalatable.”


This is just one more instance of an Anglican Vicar who really believes he has the moral right to deny the authority of the Church he has pledged to serve by his vows at ordination. As Vicar of the historic Anglican Parish of Fowey in Cornwall, the Reverend Philip de Grey-Warter has decided to leave the Church of England to pursue his own path of leadership that denies the right of LGBTQI people to belong to the membership of that Church – on the grounds of their moral deficiency.

The caption on the first photo in this article from ‘Pink News’ identitifes him with the dissident quasi-Anglican ‘GAFCON’ group which has set up its own para-Church in competition with the Provincial Churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion.

The GAFCON movement has its own British-based quasi-Anglican Church in the U.K., under the provenance of what it is pleased to call AMIE – the Anglican Missionary Church in England – under its own foreign-ordained bishop, who was also a former Church of England minister.

The anomoly here is that, although the GAFCON Primates have their own ‘Primates Conference’, which meets usually in one of its ‘Global South’ Provinces; it also claims to be an unoffical ‘reforming’ arm of the historic Anglican Communion, claiming an ‘orthodoxy’ that it considers to have been forfeited by the Lambeth-based Anglican Communion by dint of the ACC’s openess to LGBTQI people – although it is not officially recognised as such by either the Archbishop of Canterbury or the other Provincial Churches that have remained loyal to the Canterbury Province.

Many of the Anglican Provinces – whether or not constitutionally loyal to Lambeth – have their own dissident schismatic quasi-Anglican communities that have openly declared their severance from the local Anglican Church authorities. The current opposition to forward movement, for instance, on the Blessing of Same Sex legal Marriages has spawned further outbreaks of schism. In my own Province of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand (ACANZP), dissenting clergy have moved out from their local parishes to form other para-Church communities which will, eventually, be officially allied to – and governed by – the GAFCON movement.

Purity of Doctrine’ seems to be the catchword for such movements away from the local Churches which have moved into the 21st century on issues like homophobia and sexism which, the dissidents claim, is contrary to their understanding of the Sacred Scriptures that, for them, most clearly defines any behavioural activity permitted in order to hold office (or even membership) of The Church. In holding such views on the irrevocability of what they see as uncontestable ‘orthodox tradition’, GAFCON and its associated are denying the validity of new learnings about human sexuality and gender that conflict with their own understanding of the Bible.

The Words in The Book seem to have taken precedence over The Word-Made-Flesh in Jesus Christ, the Founder of the Church, whose own attitude towards the perceived ‘ sinners’ – the outcasts of his day – was very different

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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