The Evangelical Alliance has cautioned evangelicals within the Church of England that it is too early to leave in protest at same-sex blessings, because the pastoral guidance, including words for the prayers of blessing, has not been issued yet. CEO Gavin Calver, speaking to Roger Bolton for the Religion Media Centre Big Interview, said that a number of Anglican churches will probably join his organisation because they are seeking unity with other evangelicals while staying put in a challenging situation.
Large evangelical Anglican churches have announced they are withholding money from central church organisations and threatening to break away in protest. Evangelicals base their objection to same-sex relationships on interpretations of seven verses in the Bible, which they believe is “the inspired word of God”. Mr Calver confirmed that he believed every word of the Bible was true, though he conceded there was a development on ideas within the text, with teachings in the New Testament superseding some of the old.
While church attendance in England is in general decline, he said the Evangelical Alliance had seen the biggest growth in individual membership in 25 years, over the past twelve months. His ambition is to grow individual membership from 19,000 to 50,000. He also addressed the importance of speaking out on behalf of “the least and the lost”, his rejection of the idea that all faiths lead to heaven, and the danger of all-powerful leaders without accountability.
Mr Calver is the latest in a family dynasty to lead the Evangelical Alliance, having followed his father Clive and his grandfather Gilbert. He acknowledged that the job could be really hard and he coped by “running with Jesus” for an hour every morning when he said God spoke to him. He also spends two hours a week escaping from it all watching AFC Wimbledon: “One Jesus, one football team, one wife. If I can stay loyal to all three, I’ve done my bit.”
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