Anglican Group Ready to Leave over Female Bishops

LONDON, APRIL 21, 2002 ( An Anglican group says its members will leave the Church of England if, as is expected within the next decade, it consecrates women bishops.

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Forward in Faith, a group for clergy who do not accept women priests, is demanding a “free province,” or separate church within the Anglican Communion, and also a hefty share of church property and investments, the Telegraph newspaper reported last week.

“If they consecrate women, that´s it — the end,” Stephen Parkinson, the group´s director, was quoted as saying. “If the Church fails to deliver the free province we want, then vast numbers of traditionalists will be freed to leave for Rome, the Orthodox Church or some form of ´continuing Anglicanism.´”

Forward in Faith represents about 1,000 Anglican clergy and has the backing of up to 6,000 lay churchgoers. Some estimates say membership in the Church of England has fallen below a million.

Christina Rees, chairman of the group Women in the Church, said: “The overwhelming majority of people in the [Anglican] church have welcomed and are accepting women´s ministry. If people cannot accept the decisions of every decision-making body in the church, then perhaps they are in the wrong church.”

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