By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
Dozens of conservative parishes will start ordaining their own clergy in an open revolt against their bishops if the Church of England continues its liberal drift, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been warned.
Dr Rowan Williams was told that evangelicals would increasingly defy Church rules and their own bishops by parachuting in outsiders to carry out irregular ordinations of “orthodox” candidates.
The warning came from Reform, a 1,700-strong evangelical network, which is setting up structures to allow it operate as a resistance movement within the Church.
The Rev Rod Thomas, Reform’s chairman, said that members must prepare for “courageous action” as the Church became driven by an increasingly pro-gay agenda.
Speaking to the network’s annual conference in London, he urged Dr Williams to withdraw the invitations he has issued to the liberal American bishops for next year’s showcase Lambeth Conference.
“Failure to do this will seal the division of the Communion, end all idea of a covenant, leave the Archbishop’s role in tatters and rapidly spread fractures through the Church of England,” he said.
He claimed the pro-gay lobby in this country was likely to become more overt and persistent, citing the same-sex blessing reportedly conducted by the Anglican provost of Glasgow cathedral last month.
“As the formal Church institutions and councils become paralysed or dysfunctional we must get more serious about devoting time and money to the reforms we seek,” Mr Thomas added.
“But the good news is that there has never been a better time to do this. Evangelicals are becoming clearer about the issues that have to be fought and more determined to do the fighting.”