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London vicar criticized for allowing Muslim prayer service in his church

London vicar criticized for allowing Muslim prayer service in his church

The Telegraph reports:

A Church of England vicar is facing a storm of protest from traditionalist Christians after allowing a Muslim prayer service to be held in his church.

Dozens of Muslims took part in the “Inclusive Mosque” event at St John’s church, Waterloo in central London, in what is thought to have been the first time a full Islamic prayer service has been held within the Church of England.

The vicar, the Rev Canon Giles Goddard, a prominent liberal cleric, joined in the event, reading a passage from the Bible and inviting the congregation to give thanks to “the God that we love, Allah”.

The protests came from a number of angles: Evangelical clerics said the service

marked a breach with canon law which forbids any variation from the official liturgy if it contains “any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter”.

It was also “offensive” to Christians being persecuted for their faith around the world, they said.

The prayer service comes at a time when many in the Diocese of Southwark have voiced concern about an increasingly liberal shift; 60 clerics signed a letter to the Bishop of Southwark. The letter mentioned St. John’s specifically, criticizing its offering of thanksgiving services for same-gender partnerships and marriages.

The event, which came about at the request of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, was held on International Women’s Day: “During the service a traditional call to prayer was issued by a man before the main worship was led by a Muslim woman, Dr Amina Wadud.”

Goddard said the service was a sharing of common faith traditions.

“We are offering a place for people to pray so it made absolutely perfect sense … we should be offering places to pray, we are the Church of England.” [says Goddard.]

He rejected claims it was a breach of canon law as the event was not officially a Church of England service.

“They could have gone to a community centre I suppose, but they loved being in a church, they were just really pleased and delighted to have the welcome and it was very moving really,” he said.

“It is the same God, we share a tradition.”

Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett



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Geoff McLarney

The canon law angle would seem to be a red herring. Surely the Church of England’s canon law governs the Church of England, and not just any group that might happen to use its spaces. My own parish’s crypt chapel is used permanently by an Orthodox congregation with no problem, even though I imagine the bishop would have something to say if we started celebrating the Divine Liturgy ourselves on the regular (at least without his permission). Heck, a mosque setting up shop in an Anglican church was the premise of the popular CBC sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie!


If I lived in England, I would have been there. As a gay Muslim, there is no other place for me to go. I hope that this situation can be resolved such that vulnerable people’s safety can be protected.

Jonathan Fell

I attended this. I am a Quaker, not a Muslim. I sat in my Silence amongst those praying. The woman Imam’s sermon also touched me as a Quaker, and I haven’t sunk so deeply into my Silence in quite a while. There were a few others there who also are not Muslim. I believe I was the only non-Muslim who actually took part in the prayers. The Vicar, Giles, spoke at the end and not during the paryes. Could some of this be as much about him being openly Gay, as inviting Muslims to pray?
Jonathan Fell

Ann Fontaine

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