The Rev Trevor Johnston chaired the meeting of The Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy (EFIC) in Belfast on Monday which was addressed by the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn.
Mr Johnston told the Portadown Times, “There are usually around 40 clergy at our EFIC meetings, but Monday’s was attended by 80 from all over Ireland, with 80 per cent of them rectors and all strongly opposed to same sex partnerships. The main purpose of the meeting was Bible study, but this issue was discussed widely and clergy from all over Ireland are opposed.
“The Bible is unequivocal throughout, and the meeting took place in a very serious mood. There was a groundswell of distress by people who do not want to see their church divided over this issue, but it will be very difficult to hold the Church of Ireland together.”
He added that the bishops’ conference in the spring and then the General Synod could be a watershed for the church, “and this crisis will be very hard to resolve”.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy (EFIC) had said the civil partnership of Portadown-born Tom Gordon and New Zealander Mark Duley has made it “very difficult” for the C of I to stay united.
Bishop Benn last year caused a furore in the Church of England when he made a highly controversial comment about women bishops.