We got word a while ago that the Rev. Stuart Lawson had resigned his position as Honorary Assistant Priest at the diocesan cathedral in Gippsland (and is still listed on their staff page as of the time of writing), ostensibly over the appointment of Rev. David Head. I wanted to clarify the situation and Rev. Lawson was good enough to answer some of my questions. The interview is fascinating for its insights into wider issues in Gippsland Diocese.
My questions in italics,Rev. Lawson’s responses in blockquotes.
Is it true that you have resigned from your position at the Cathedral?
Yes. And from the Anglican Church of Australia.
What prompted that resignation?
As I wrote in my letter to the bishop, the appointment of a homosexual in an open relationship was only the tipping point in my considerations. Moves within the Anglican church, not only in Australia but also overseas, on other issues related to this, and creeping syncretism, has continued to cause me some unease over the last year.
What are your ongoing plans for ministry?
I firmly believe that I have a continuing ministry role, particularly amongst those folk who share similar feeling to those that I have. Already I have had many calls from within the parish and across the diocese, and even some from outside. As far as the future goes, I have now been licenced by the Anglican Episcopal Church International and have already a sizeable congregation meeting here in Sale, made up of some who have left the Anglican Church of Australia, and surprisingly, about a third who have come from others, including some who had walked away from their own churches many years ago over similar issues. We seem to have struck a chord in people’s lives and intend pushing on with letting others know about our direction.
The Anglican Episcopal Church is a member of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
What’s clear from Rev. Lawson’s comments and backed up by regular reports I get from others is that the issues in Gippsland extend far beyond where the bishop stands on human sexuality. What Lawson describes as “creeping syncretism” should sound awfully familiar to many TEC survivors.
The Australian House of Bishops also finished a 3 day meeting today (Thursday). We’ll obviously let you know any news we get out of there.