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London congregation joins alternative Anglican denomination, questions C of E's 'theological trajectory'
A vicar in south London has announced his congregation is joining an alternative Anglican denomination as he criticised "hostility to evangelical church planting" during "decades" by his local Church of England diocese.
Andy Palmer, who announced that Christ Church Balham is joining the Free Church of England described a "dominance of theological liberalism in the Diocese of Southwark.
The senior minister said: "We have made the decision to join the Free Church of England (FCE) denomination, which we believe will help us secure the gospel ministry here in Balham for generations to come..."
Similarly to the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), the FCE is an evangelical Anglican denomination. It is a supporter of GAFCON - a global movement of conservative evangelical Anglicans.
Rev Palmer continued: "Given the theological trajectory of the Church of England, many churches like us across the country are now looking elsewhere for alternative oversight from evangelical bishops."
In a statement, the FCE's Southern Diocese offered its congratulations to Christ Church Balham for "being bold in making a stand for the gospel".
The congregation shall remain part of the regional church-planting Co-Mission network.
During an interview with Premier published on Thursday, the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledged there were deep divisions within conservative and liberal elements of the C of E over issues concerning sexuality.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwark told Premier: "The Diocese of Southwark welcomes church plants and has, this week, signed a Bishop's Mission order with Gracechurch for the Greenwich Peninsula.
"As part of Co-Mission, Christ Church, Balham, has never been a part of the Diocese of Southwark and as such the church's decision to become part of the 'Free Church of England' does not change its status within the Diocese of Southwark or the Church of England. Where possible the Diocese of Southwark will continue to work with Christ Church, Balham, to spread the good news of God's love to all those in the area.
"On the day when one of the priests of the Diocese of Southwark has been consecrated as Bishop to serve in the Church of England Diocese of Salisbury, we give thanks for the wonderful work that God is doing in our Diocese and look forward to all that the future will bring."
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