Faithful servant rubbed out by Anglican church
People Matter was a regular column by Phillip Jensen in Southern Cross, the monthly magazine of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
Jensen, P 'Faithful servant rubbed out by Anglican church'. Southern Cross, July 2000.
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“It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!” Matthew 10:25.
Sam is a good friend, a faithful pastor and evangelist. Like us all, he has his faults but he has been used by God for the salvation of many people. Today, Sam is an ex-Anglican minister.
Sam is not a Sydney man, nor a Moore College graduate—though for a few months he did work in a Sydney parish. He left Anglicanism—not by his choice but by the choice of others.
Sam's problems started with evangelism—bringing new people into the church. Not just one or two newcomers, but sufficient numbers to threaten the existing congregation that had called him.
However his real problems were not with the local church but with the local bishops. One supported him and watched the parish grow and flourish under his leadership for years. But his next bishop did not support him, and brought his ministry in Anglicanism to an end.
It was sad to see the struggle that was involved—the counseling, the reconciliation procedures, the appointment of a spiritual director, the legal challenges. But the whole process moved inevitably to one conclusion—Sam had to leave.
The bishop was not an evangelical. His sympathy for evangelicalism was only that of liberal inclusiveness. Actually, for the bishop, evangelicals were an irritant. He was committed to a liberal agenda.
The bishop was a leader for the ordination of women to the priesthood and was pleased to be in the vanguard of consecrating a woman bishop. But the bishop was hiding an awful secret. Though publicly an advocate of all that was politically correct in promoting women's ordination he was at the same time an exploiter of women. His adulteries and sexual exploitation of female colleagues was to come out for all the world to see. But not before his suicide.
Sam's dismissal was not reversed or even revisited when finally the immorality of the bishop was revealed. Sam's plight had already deepened by that time. He had moved to another diocese, but not as an Anglican minister—that was not available to him.
He accepted an invitation of some locals to start an independent church with them. The local bishop rang and demanded that he stop. And yet the bishop displayed no concern about the openly homosexual curate in the local Anglican church. You see, though heretical and immoral, the curate's appointment was ‘regular’ while Sam's position, though speaking and living the truth, was ‘irregular’.
But Sam's position worsened still because bishops talk to each other. For many years Sam had ministered at a resort during the holiday season. It was an unusual church—only opened in summer, and of no particular denomination but Protestant and usually following an Anglican pattern. Now the bishop of that diocese contacted Sam and demanded his resignation.
Here was the third bishop, in not as many years, demanding that Sam stop preaching the gospel of Jesus. And this was the second bishop to be subsequently found out as an adulterer. This one did not suicide—he just resigned. Again no-one sought to rectify the Bishops' decisions against Sam.
Sam's wife and four children have had to move house, change school, leave churches, lose their friends, be financially disadvantaged, hear their husband and father falsely accused of infidelity—all because of the actions of those who were themselves maritally unfaithful. And yet they still love the Lord Jesus, and rejoice in the gospel being preached.
Sam told me that he would have never thought of leaving Anglicanism—but now that he has been evicted, and is in an independent church, he realises how free he is. Free from maintaining a dead structure—free to evangelise non churchgoers instead of pandering to the church members who wish for nothing more than their place in their church. Free from those who support immoral and heretical bishops and ministers while dispensing with faithful pastors and evangelists—like Sam.