I have refrained from comment until now, since it is often wise to wait until the facts are a bit more clear. One of my linked blogs now carries a statement from the diocese, see here.
According to this, it is all about "disagreements within the parish concerning how some matters are handled" and is therefore about "matters of church order and authority during an interregnum."
And in a sense surely that is true. However, I wonder if 'the diocese' has got it right.
It is the task of the teaching office of the Church not only to teach the truth but, in the case of both bishops and priests, to "banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word".
As things stand at the moment, it is the prevailing view within the Church of England that -- to adopt a minimalist position -- God's Word on the subject of marriage is relatively clear. If there is dissent from that view in the congregation, it is therefore surely the task of the teaching office to correct it.
And this is where the question of authority comes in. My guess is that Mr Gowlland, whose ministry is now in temporarily in abeyance (the diocese are denying he has been suspended, which is true insofar as he is allowed to go anywhere but that church), was regarded by some in the congregation as lacking the authority to do what he did.
Hopefully that will be sorted out when the new incumbent arrives and, having the authority, sets about correcting any "erroneous and strange doctrines". However, I am reminded of a situation not a zillion miles from here, where a new incumbent with similarly 'unstrange' ideas on the topice of sex and marriage found himself facing difficulties in an ostensibly evangelical congregation.
At the moment, though, my question is simply this: what authority do Readers have as those licensed to preach God's Word? Is it confined to the pulpit, or might they have the authority of the Word in their wider ministry -- even, perhaps, in giving the notices?
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