As is my wont, I awakened to the tones of the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. The day’s controversy centred on the news that Dr Jeffrey John – the gay Anglican Dean of St Albans, who lives in a civil partnership, was being considered to become the Bishop of Southwark.
The raised voices came in a debate between two Anglican priests, in which one, Canon Chris Sugden – Executive Secretary of something called Anglican Mainstream – raised his voice in protest against the proposed appointment.
He was enraged that a priest who had indulged in an “active gay relationship” with the man whom he now enjoyed a civil partnership, was now being considered to become a Bishop. The Canon dismissed the suggestion that Dr John was now celibate. I already sensed that the discussion had veered into the priestly private life further than felt comfortable at 7.10 in the morning. But the Canon ploughed on.
He described an active homosexual, who had now become celibate, as akin to “someone entering the Cabinet having once fiddled his expenses”. The climax to the Canon’s wrath was that his fellow Canon had “never apologised” for his journey from active homosexuality to celibacy…
Reform has issued one of their rare press statements, see Comment from Reform on Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, being nominated for the post of bishop of Southwark:
“Dr John’s teaching regarding homosexual practice is contrary to both the Bible and to the current doctrine of the Church of England. To appoint him Bishop would send two very clear signals. First that the diocese of Southwark wants to walk in a different direction to the Church of England’s doctrine. Second that there is now little to stop the Church of England proceeding in the same divisive direction as the Episcopal Church in the USA . We would support churches in Southwark seeking alternative oversight should Dr John be appointed.”
Reform was established in 1993 and is a network of churches and individuals within the Church of England. Current individual membership is around 1,700, in addition to 35 member churches. More than 350 ordained clergy are Reform members.
Colin Coward has blogged about this topic, see Conservative evangelicals threaten to split church, defy bishops and withdraw financial support.
And yesterday, he wrote The new paradigm unfolds on Radio 4 between Chris Sugden and Giles Fraser!