Statement on the resignation of Mrs Lorna Ashworth from General Synod and Archbishops’ Council

Bishop Andy Lines

The fact that Lorna Ashworth has served on General Synod for 12 years, and was chosen to serve on Archbishops’ Council, shows the respect in which she is held by her peers. Her people skills, her considerable abilities in mastering complicated church business, and in articulating a point of view clearly and consistently, are well known to many. And yet Lorna is not interested in power, in making a name for herself or in being the centre of attention; rather she has simply wanted to serve, whether in Synod, in her local church, in her workplace, or as a wife and mother.

She has for all this time considered that it is worth being present at the Synod meetings, graciously but fearlessly putting forward a biblically faithful perspective even when she found herself in a minority or even alone in doing so, and encouraging less courageous colleagues to stand up when needed. But clearly a tipping point has been reached, where she has felt that her presence in these senior governing bodies is no longer achieving anything positive. “I refuse to be mistaken as one participating in the fanciful notion of ‘good disagreement’”, she says in her resignation letter. She saw that her presence as a conservative on Archbishop’s Council was no longer a moderating influence, but being used to legitimize the revisionist agenda on which she believes the Church of England has embarked.

The question with which she ends her letter is a telling one which is relevant to all faithful Anglicans around the world: given the inability of the Church of England leadership to articulate clearly and fully the saving message of Jesus Christ, for how long will God continue to use this institution to as his witness in the nation? And for how long can the wider Anglican Communion be expected to look to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England for credible leadership?

Lorna has said that she will continue to support those who share her orthodox understanding of the Christian faith, but choose to remain on Synod. And of course there remain  hundreds of faithful clergy and congregations at local parish level in the Church of England, many of whom identify with Gafcon. However, increasingly their gospel work is confused and even contradicted by other theologies found in the higher structures of the institution. Whatever happens with the Church of England, as Lorna says, God is continuing his work through other ecclesial expressions, both Anglican (outside the C of E, connected to Gafcon) and non-Anglican.

Gafcon UK applauds Lorna Ashworth, who has been a member of the Gafcon UK Task Group, for her courageous stand for the truth, and will look to continue working with her in her future ministries.