Thinking Anglicans

Bishop refuses to license married health service chaplain

Updated Thursday morning

Update
Guardian Chaplain accuses Church of England of homophobia

The first British clergyman to enter a gay marriage has accused the Church of England of homophobia and said that he is considering legal action after it blocked his attempt to take up a new post in a move he says is intended to stop others following in his footsteps…

The following information is taken from a posting by Laurence Cunnington on the Facebook page of Changing Attitude and is also available there.

…You will all, no doubt, be aware from recent press and internet coverage that Jeremy Pemberton has had his ‘Permission to Officiate’ (PTO) in Southwell & Nottingham Diocese removed by the acting Bishop, following consultation with the Archbishop of York. Distressing as this was, there has now been a further significant and much more serious development.

Background

Jeremy currently works as a Chaplain in an NHS Trust in Lincolnshire and retains his general licence from the Bishop of Lincoln. Jeremy received a written rebuke from this Bishop for contracting his marriage with me but this had no impact on his employment.

However, he has recently been successful in his application for a promotion within the NHS to become the Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services in a large hospital closer to home. This hospital is located within the geographical area covered by the Church’s Southwell & Nottingham Diocese. For those of you who are unaware, NHS chaplains are funded in full by the NHS and not by the Church of England.

Present position

The NHS has requested the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham to issue Jeremy with a licence in order that he may take up his new job. This is standard procedure. The Bishop has refused to issue any form of licence to Jeremy as, by his marriage to me, and for no other reason, he does not, according to the Bishop ‘model the Church’s teaching’ in his life. Leaving aside the insulting nature of this phrase, the effect of this refusal is that Jeremy will be denied the opportunity to take up his new position and develop his ministry further. There was no disciplinary process, no hearing and there is no right of appeal against this decision.

I realise that, as Jeremy’s husband, I am far from impartial but those of you who know him well will recognise my description of him as a fine man of integrity and exceptional abilities and whose ministry in this Diocese would be a tremendous asset to those he serves. I am appalled, to put it mildly, that he is to be denied this opportunity solely because of his marital status. It is worth pointing out that Paul Butler (now Bishop of Durham) and the current Bishop of Lincoln issued Jeremy with his PTO and licence respectively in the past in the full knowledge that he is gay and living in a relationship with me. All that has changed is that we have got married. Nearly 100 of you were there on that day and will recall the commitment we made to each other with our vows. For this to result in the ruining of Jeremy’s employment prospects is outrageous and is, in my opinion, homophobic bullying.

What I am asking

Some of you may think what Jeremy has done is wrong and that he is paying the penalty for that. You are entitled to your opinion and I ask you to do nothing. Those of you who agree with me, I would ask that you consider doing one or more of the following in order to show support and perhaps result in the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham changing his mind and issuing Jeremy with some form of a licence. When writing, it may carry more weight if you mention that you are a Christian/member of the Church of England if you are.

You could write, expressing your views to:

The Right Revd Richard Inwood
Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
Jubilee House
Westgate
Southwell
NG25 0JH
Email bishop@southwell.anglican.org

I am not clear whether this latest decision was as a result of consultation with the Archbishop of York but, in any event, I would ask that you copy your correspondence to him at:

The Most Revd & Right Hon Dr John Sentamu
Archbishop of York
Bishopthorpe Palace
Bishopthorpe
York
YO23 2GE
Email office@archbishopofyork.org

The Acting Dean of Southwell Minster, Nigel Coates, is extremely supportive, for which Jeremy and I are most grateful. You may also wish to contact him to express your support at:
The Revd Canon Nigel Coates
Acting Dean of Southwell Minster
Minster Centre
Church Street
Southwell
NG25 0HD
Email dean@southwellminster.org.uk

The Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham will be attending the grand re-opening of the Archbishop’s Palace and Great Hall complex at Southwell Minster on 7th October. You might wish to consider attending this event and taking the opportunity to bring your opinion of their treatment of Jeremy to their attention…

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Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

The facebook post concludes with the following sentence: “These are all my own words with no input from Jeremy, lawyers or anyone else.”

Davis Mac-Iyalla
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Davis Mac-Iyalla

I want to protest on 7th October at the Archbishop’s Palace and Great Hall complex at Southwell Minster unless someone say its not a good idea? This is annoying and humiliating for those of us who are lgbti Christians. This is no longer a matter of a bishop and his clergy, its now another open battle we must fight to win. I am a Christian, I am Anglican, A Deanery Synod member of the Church of England and I Believe in Equal Marriage for all people.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

What upsets me most is that the church has not had the integrity to test the legality of its own pastoral statement by dealing with Jeremy under CDM or EJM. This is nothing buy extreme bullying. Those who agree with me that this is not how anyone should be treated should also consider writing to their MP, to the Equalities Minister, the Shadow Equalities Minister and the Parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee. The church has been given an opt out from the Equalities Act but it cannot have been the intention of Parliament to allow it to force the NHS to discriminate… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

The church has been given an opt out from the Equalities Act but it cannot have been the intention of Parliament to allow it to force the NHS to discriminate against someone it is clearly willing to employ on the grounds of sexuality and marital status.
If you agree, consider writing to your MP, to the Equalities Minister, the Shadow Equalities Minister and the Parliamentary Ecclastical Committee.
The details can be found here:
http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/sajid-javid/3945

http://www.parliament.uk/search/results/?q=Gloria+De+Piero+

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/other-committees/ecclesiastical-committee/contact-us/

And your MP can be reached via https://www.writetothem.com/

Adrian Judd
Guest
Adrian Judd

I would want to look at the requirement to be licensed by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham (or whatever it is called nowadays), as that requirement may be discriminatory. They may have a requirement for the Anglican Chaplain to be in good standing with their own denomination, or with a specific branch of it (C of E diocesan bishop. They could express that requirement differently for example, they could accept a licence from a different diocesan bishop (say one from a different diocese or province) as evidence. I know this is not what was asked, but I think the… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

The church may have an opt-out from the Equalities Act, but does it have an opt out from the processes and procedures of ensuring natural justice. For me the most shameful part of Laurence’s post was “There was no disciplinary process, no hearing and there is no right of appeal against this decision.”.

Can it be right, can it be legal even, for the church to make such a major decision about denying someone’s employment without a formal hearing, and without a right of appeal. Are there ground’s for challenge here?

Simon

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

Unfortunately, there will be some (many) who would regard any pressure from HMG as further ‘evidence’ of the persecution of Christians in this country.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

If he’s been offered the job, and is then unable to take it up because the NHS insists that he requires a permit from a bishop that the bishop will not grant, that is on the face of it an employment tribunal case. The NHS will have great concern about being seen to be sacking someone for reasons of sexuality and/or marital status, even if there’s an intermediate step in that those factors are “outsourced” to a bishop. There’s also the problem that the CofE would be claiming that NHS authorities are bound by boundaries between CofE dioceses: there are… Read more »

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

This kind of scenario can’t last and the case made by the House of Bishops and exemplified here is unsustainable. Richard Inwood will end up being the fall guy.

Still waiting to hear what has happened with the London case of Andrew Cain – any news?

Tobias Haller
Guest

This is a good, but sad, example of what happens when a church loses sight of its primary ministry and mission, and allows secondary (or tertiary or even more remote “concerns”) to deflect the implementation of ministry. There are few ministerial commands with the weight of dominical force; but among them is the commandment to minister to the sick. There is no dominical command either to marry or to refrain from marriage, though Jesus clearly held that there are requirements placed on those who do marry. So in this case, the Church of England is not only confecting a discipline,… Read more »

Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente
Guest

I’m torn. I’m just not sure it’ll help. And if you do demonstrate etc… the charge of not ‘modelling the church’s teaching in your life’ as you put it may be assigned not to the marriage as such but to marrying before it was allowed by canon, or disobedience or even demonstrating against your own bish. It’s a nasty situation, for sure, but do talk to your lawyers.

I’d favour waiting for the outcome of the so-called facilitated conversations, provided there not kicked into the long-grass, and only giving them hell afterwards.

Pluralist
Guest

It is the NHS that ought to be tackled. If Jeremy Pemberton is the right person to be Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services then they should appoint. If they need a religious licence then it should come from a Church that would grant it, and there are many that will – Open Episcopal Church, Old Catholic and Apostolic Church, and ministry in the Unitarians. The Church of England has the right as an institution to refuse to grant a licence – of course it is homophobic, but then he is in a homophobic Church granted the legal right to… Read more »

Peter Ould
Guest
Peter Ould

Let’s add a little bit of analytical rigour to this debate before the emotion of it all overwhelms us. i) Pemberton has applied for a ***new*** job in a different NHS trust. ii) One of the conditions that the NHS applies as *necessary* for the job is that the post holder has a licence from the relevant diocese (in this case Southwell). iii) Southwell refuses to issue a licence because, as the House of Bishops outlined on 14th February 2014, they are not willing to endorse in this way the ministry of someone who fashions his life in opposition to… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

With regard to Peter Ould’s list. (v) That’s right, but it’s not clear that the NHS can _refuse_ to employ someone solely on the basis that they don’t have a license, either. Your point (ii) remains to be tested at an ET or EAT, because it quite clearly is at least arguable as indirect discrimination. For example, an employer could insist that everyone it employs to coach children in sport holds a registration to play in a named local pub football league, but would lose a discrimination case, as that would clearly be indirect sexual discrimination. Requiring someone to hold… Read more »

Ann
Guest
Ann

I suggest a Twitter campaign @JohnSentamu

TP
Guest
TP

A clergy discipline measure complaint can be made by “anyone who witnesses the behaviour in question”. In this case the behaviour is a refusal to do something. Everyone is presumably a witness to that, or perhaps could at least argue that they were. If the bishop’s action is unbecoming of a clerk in holy orders then that could give anyone grounds for a complaint. Can a lawyer please comment?

Peter Ould
Guest
Peter Ould

Hi IO,

v) The point I’m making is very clear. The NHS has chosen to ask its chaplains to have a licence / denominational recognition. It is the NHS who have created this problem, not the CofE. Pemberton is perfectly able to be employed as a Chaplain and the CofE is not stopping that. What he is blocked from doing is being employed as a CofE endorsed chaplain.

viii) He won’t be allowed to pass himself off as ministering under the authority of the Church of England. This is the key point.

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

The making of martyrs – witnesses through suffering – is a sure road to defeat.

IT
Guest
IT

So why can’t the NHS simply amend its rules to say that as long as Jeremy P. is licensed in a CoE diocese, it doesn’t matter which one? It would seem to make sense for a NATIONAL health service to be able to deploy its staff across the country as necessary. Since Jeremy is good to go with Lincoln, why shouldn’t that be enough for the NHS? In any case, it is true this will look bad for the CoE regardless of outcome. That sucking sound is more people, particularly young people, leaving the church in disgust.

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

Leaving all the legalities aside, this is a shameful act perpetrated against a man who is obviously good at his job (or he would not be offered a promotion) because he has married his partner (in accordance with the law of the land.) In the thread above they are discussing ‘one week to go’ until the vote on women bishops. The CofE seems to exist in a world of its own, totally divorced from reality. Who else cares whom they allow to be bishops when the bishops they have already behave as they do! How are you on threats, bullying… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Once again, thoughts are for Jeremy and Laurence. Helpful remarks from Peter and Interested Observer (I dislike subterfuge) and it leaves me wondering what sort of input the reference group had in making this decision? Is this their work? But it adds another layer to the sentencing guidelines this case has already revealed. Clergy “guilty” of getting married are very unlikely to be sacked, but they will not get another job. Or, at least, that would seem to be the plan. Perhaps Pete Broadbent or David Walker can enlighten us as to the future employment prospects of similarly married clergy?… Read more »

MG
Guest
MG

The Bishop’s defence against homophobia/ discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation would surely be that the CofE can, and has, refused to ordain/license people who have disobeyed the rules regarding re-marriage of divorced persons of either gender. There would be no grounds for complaint if this chap had re-married a person of the opposite gender without approval after being divorced

James A
Guest
James A

More immediate & effective might be something at General Synod this weekend – especially if the media can be tipped off. What could be more effective than an impromptu demonstration outside York Minster after the Eucharist on Sunday morning, with an attempt to engage Sentamu? It would be worth asking why he thinks campaigning for a living wage can be an issue of fundamental human justice; but equal marriage is not – especially when his intervention has prevented someone from progressing in their chosen career?

Robert ian Williams
Guest
Robert ian Williams

the Hospital trust must appoint a licensed Church of England chaplain in good standing and Jeremy Pemberton is no longer such. He should either join another denomination or campaign for a Synod change to the teaching. The bishop is being very reasonable and Anglicans have the right to a chaplain who is licensed and in good standing.

However in the not too distant past he would have been dismissed for being divorced.

No one here considers the sensitivities of the patients.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

As Nicholas Holtam supports equal marriage, when can we expect him to break the suffocating gag of episcopal collegiality, and denounce this homophobia?

Likewise, when can we expect one of the eight “participant observers,” who believe the Bible’s commands on headship ought to be set aside to their own benefit, to do likewise?

Clock’s ticking, guys and gals …

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Perhaps there is a case here for a different type of ‘Flying Bishop’, one who might be disposed to issue a licence to Jeremy on account of his acceptance of Same-Sex married clergy? This, after all, is – as Tobias Haller reminds us, a matter of enabling the Gospel initiative of Ministry to the Sick.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Kyrie eleison, the Church of England has a death-wish… 🙁

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Robert Williams is wrong. I have a licence in Lincoln diocese. I am in good standing. There is no disciplinary procedure against me to remove that. There is, therefore, no consistency in the approach taken by bishops. The bishop was told I was applying for the job now in question at my meeting with him on 29 May. While discussing what he might do, the difficulty of licensing after removing a PTO was mentioned. The Trust were told at interview that this might be an issue; they offered me the job knowing that. The bishop has claimed that I can’t… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“The Bishop’s defence against homophobia/ discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation would surely be that the CofE can, and has, refused to ordain/license people who have disobeyed the rules regarding re-marriage of divorced persons of either gender.” That’s fine: the CofE has an exemption which permits it to do this. However, in this case any employment tribunal would be between Jeremy Pemberton and an NHS Trust that refused to employ him. It’s not remotely clear that the church’s exemption permits other bodies to demand that you have an authorisation, when the church engages a right to discriminate that the church… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Yes, thank you Jeremy. I see the bishop makes the claim he is being consistent in the Guardian. He made the decision to remove the PTO in the knowledge that in a very short time he could be asked to give his licence. I believe that is a significant development and it is evidence of just how pernicious the CofE strategy is. I agree with Jeremy, this attempt at discipline has backfired exposing just how illthoughtout this whole matter is. As I wrote earlier in this thread, no reasonable person would see this as consistent. The English college of bishops… Read more »

Peter Ould
Guest
Peter Ould

A few comments, “Clergy “guilty” of getting married are very unlikely to be sacked, but they will not get another job.” Yes, this is the “rotting corpses” strategy I outlined a few months ago. You essentially leave those clergy in a SSM where they are to “fester” away. It’s clever and cunning (and legally quite robust). “the Health Authority might end up being a little “creative” and there must be dozens of bishops who might offer credentials” That would involve a diocesan Bishop breaking collegiality and it would have far wider implications than this small issue. “the Hospital trust must… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

It seems to me to be quite pointless to expect the CoE to come up with a credible policy on this any times soon. And the NHS is possibly in a difficult situation. There are good reasons for requesting that a chaplain should be in good standing with his church. It just so happens that the church policy on marriage equality is not in good standing with the rest of society and contravenes the Equalities Act from which the NHS has no opt out. It really is time to involve MPs, Ministers and Parliament in this and I urge everyone… Read more »

sjh
Guest
sjh

Jeremy, I hope the Trust appoints you anyway. Ithe church has nobody but itself to blame if it is removed from the public square.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Peter: “They don’t have to do it, they are perfectly entitled to employ who they want without regard to any denomination.” That’s right, but is that a theory the CofE wants to put to the test? As of now, the NHS is in a very tricky position. If they continue to employ CofE ministers on the basis of them being actual CofE ministers (roughly, “were there to be a CofE church next door to the hospital, would they be authorised to conduct services?” but a more precise definition would be useful) then they have two problems. Firstly, they would be… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Peter writes that it is all perfectly consistent so far.
Yes, there is a clever, cunning consistency that only a few with a mind for the minutiae of church affairs will perceive.

In the court of public opinion, in the mind of most sensible folk they will say
“This stinks!”

And that hurts all of us.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Peter Ould should read more carefully. I do have a licence. I still have a licence. I am going to go on having a licence all the time I work in this Trust. No one is trying to “sack” me or remove this. I am in good standing in the Church of England, despite the actions of the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. There is, therefore, a glaring inconsistency. The acting bishop may think he is being internally consistent with his previous decision. How tidy for him. His decision is inconsistent with my past, present and future standing as… Read more »

TP
Guest
TP

Incorrect that in the past he would have been sacked for getting divorced. It would be marriage after divorce…ironic, isn’t it.

iain mclean
Guest
iain mclean

To add to Erika’s post, the letters she recommends could usefully ask Parliamentarians whether they support ex officio representation in Parliament for a body which imposes otherwise-illegal discrimination on the NHS. If she, or TA editors, were willing to collate/publicize answers it might be interesting.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Iain,
I will happily post any reply I get to my letters.

Peter Ould
Guest
Peter Ould

IO, “Firstly, they would be implicitly accepting that they are employing, on their books, members of staff can be effectively dismissed” No-one’s being dismissed. Someone is not getting a licence because they have disobeyed the Bishops on a key issue. It’s a huge difference. There has been no disciplinary process within the NHS. The withdrawal of the licence is entirely a CofE matter and it is the NHS Trust that is preventing Pemberton taking up the appointment by demanding of him something that it is under no statutory obligation to demand (a licence) and without which he could still adequately… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Thaks Jeremy, but are you being honest with yourself. Which bishop would offer you a living in the Church of England…if you are in good standing.

If a Catholic priest acted in this way, he would be supended and excommunicated ipso facto. No local bishop would tolerate a Health Trust claiming that he was still a Catholic chaplain.

Sound
Guest
Sound

How odd that Peter Ould doesn’t want to see the glaring inconsistency. Jeremy is allowed to hold a licence in one diocese but is not allowed to hold it in another. If that isn’t inconsistent, I’m not sure what is.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Peter, I’m sure you meant nothing by it, so could you find a better phrase than ” ‘rotting corpses’ strategy”?

I don’t find it clever of cunning at all. It’s the most inept legalism. As other have said, the public won’t make these distinctions. They’ll just see the church denying a person a job because they happen to be gay.

As for Jeremy’s marriage being “wrong,” I’d say the same about the bishops’ statement, passed without any consultation or synodical approval. We’re obliged to disobey an unjust law.

Peter Ould
Guest
Peter Ould

“How odd that Peter Ould doesn’t want to see the glaring inconsistency” There is no inconsistency. Let’s do this again. A PTO can be given and removed by a Bishop at his whim. Pemberton has had his PTO removed in Southwell. This has no bearing on his licence in Lincoln (another Diocese) or getting a new licence in Southwell (a different legal arrangement to a PTO). Secondly, a licence that is in place cannot just be withdrawn (well it can, but the Bishop would have to have a damn good reason). Normally it is withdrawn if there is a misdemeanour… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“It’s the most inept legalism.” It’s not even that, really, because it avoids dealing with the legality of the bishops guidelines. There is inconsistency in how the guidelines were applied in 2 adjacent dioceses. And in neither did the bishops opt for a fair and due process under CDM or EJM. Instead, they arbitrarily decided to impose a punishment just because they could. If we consider that under EJM the most that could happen is a monition, whereas the reality is that Jeremy is being denied promotion, we cannot possibly say that the approach here is remotely just. Yes, he… Read more »

Peter Ould
Guest
Peter Ould

Re ‘rotting corpses’. This is the strategy I suggested to some a few months ago when I was surrounded by baying Conservatives wanting to slap CDMs left, right and centre on the issue. Far better, I suggested, just to leave people in place unable to move onto any other job. Over time they will be forgotten and you avoid all the hassle of legal cases and the publicity thereto. The clergy unable to move become like ‘rotting corpses’, slowly fading away stuck in their current positions. Yes, not the most pleasant of language, but I think it’s an adequate description… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Is the bishop of Willesden going to share his wisdom with us poor mortals here on how this strategy is developing?

Is the bishop of Manchester going to give us his view on the development, or is the politics too hot?

Jo
Guest
Jo

” You *knew* this was all a possibility.”

Dr. King knew he might end up in jail. Justice does not depend on whether the injustice enacted was predictable or not. This is victim blaming of the worst kind. Disregarding an unjust law (or in this case bizarre rule) is not wrong. The House of Bishops are making fools of themselves and are lashing out at their victims to try and avoid facing up to the mess that they have made.

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

U. S. Grant (General of the Army and 18th President of the Unites States): “I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.”

John
Guest
John

‘We’re obliged to disobey an unjust law.’ I absolutely agree with this. But by this logic the ‘legislators’ (in this case the HoB [officially, allowing for the important fact that bishops within that ‘house’ disagree among themselves and are therefore already acting discordantly, and will ever more do so in future) are entitled to exact reparations. But they in turn are themselves subject to higher courts, in the first instance (we don’t need to go higher) the ‘court’ of public opinion in the UK. Within that court they will lose big-time. Sentamu (for I presume it is he who is… Read more »