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  • Writer's pictureDavid Runcorn

A reflection from the convenors of Inclusive Evangelicals

We are Convenors of Inclusive Evangelicals, a predominantly Anglican group with members from other churches. Several of us have been meeting for three days for conversation and prayer, exploring our identity both within the wider evangelical Christian community and as evangelicals within the Church of England. As part of that latter conversation, we revisited some of the story of evangelicals in the Church of England.

We were drawn to the discussions of the Keele Conference of 1967, held at a time when Anglican evangelicals were close to splitting off from the Church of England. At that landmark event they resolved, instead, to fully participate in the whole life and mission of Church of England. Despite differences in both theology and practice with other Anglicans, they recognised that evangelicals could walk together with them as Christians in the same church. The result of that decision has, we believe, led to an enormous enrichment of both evangelicals and the wider Church.

We recognise the precise theological issues are not the same as those in our context, and we might have different views from those present in 1967.However, holding to the spirit of their decision to remain and participate fully in the Church of England is deeply significant for us. As we reflected on this, we were helped by two articles written by evangelicals in 2017 looking at the legacy of Keele 50 years on. One was by Andrew Atherstone, for the Church Times, the other by Joshua Penduck for Open Evangelical. Both affirm the significance of Keele and the importance of its legacy, while noting the tensions that pursuing this path of wider cooperation creates within the evangelical community.

We feel the spirit of Keele remains important for Anglican evangelical Christians wrestling to engage faithfully in mission in the context of our day. The vision of Keele inspires us to deepen relationships with those we now walk with across the breadth of the Church of England, regardless of the differences in theology and practice we now face. We believe now, as then, this will enrich all of us as we receive the gift of our LGBTQIA+ siblings and engage in God’s mission within our nation.   

In the spirit of Keele, we rejoice in the faith and mission of the whole church. In the context of current disagreements in our church, we are committed to praying and working with all seeking to follow Christ. We believe this joyful commitment is part of the richness the evangelical tradition offers to the wider Church of England.


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