Thinking Anglicans

Gay clergyman passed over seven times for promotion to bishop

Harriet Sherwood has this report in the Guardian Gay clergyman passed over seven times for promotion to bishop

Jeffrey John, a gay senior Anglican churchman, has been passed over for promotion to a bishopric for a seventh time since the Church of England rescinded his appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 amid homophobic protests.

John, dean of St Albans Cathedral, was put forward for the post of bishop of Sodor and Man in February, but failed to make it on to the shortlist despite positive feedback. The rejection came shortly before he was passed over for appointment as bishop of Llandaff after objections to his sexuality allegedly were raised.

In the diocese of Sodor and Man, which covers the Isle of Man and surrounding islets, John’s name was considered by the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), an appointment body of 14 people chaired by the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and including representatives of the General Synod and from the diocese of Sodor and Man. An open vote confirmed that the panel had no objection to John’s sexuality and long-term civil partnership with Anglican priest Grant Holmes.

But in subsequent secret ballots, John’s name failed to win enough support to ensure a place on a shortlist for interview. Although some members of the CNC were believed to be unhappy with the shortlisting process, an appointment has been made and is expected to be announced in the coming weeks…

…A spokesperson for the C of E said: “We do not comment on Crown Nominations Commission business. We would resist strongly any suggestion that selections for senior appointments are influenced by the sexuality of candidates.”

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James ByronSouth church in the rabbit warrenInterested ObserverJeremyAnthony Archer Recent comment authors
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Jeremy
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Jeremy

“We would resist strongly any suggestion that selections for senior appointments are influenced by the sexuality of candidates.”

Would the Church of England please stop lying?

Susannah Clark
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‘A spokesperson for the C of E said: “We do not comment on Crown Nominations Commission business. We would resist strongly any suggestion that selections for senior appointments are influenced by the sexuality of candidates.”‘ So… um… why isn’t Jeffrey John the Bishop of Reading then? That had nothing to do with sexuality? And what about the Primate’s sanctions imposed last year on the Episcopal Church? That had nothing to do with sexuality either? (Okay, it was sexuality impacting on marriage, but the Episcopal Church has been previously hounded for gay and lesbian bishops.) And the Bishops’s report this winter… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

If ever there was a case for rationalisation then surely it is the diocese of Sodor and Man with only 28 parishes, 43 churches and a population of just over 88,000. I’m surprised that the Isle of Wight with a larger population of 140,500 hasn’t declared UDI from Portsmouth. The Victorians, who were dead keen on creating new dioceses wanted to integrate the Isle of Man within the dioceses of first Carlisle and then Liverpool but this sensible proposal did not come to pass. Isn’t it about time that this eminently sensible plan was reconsidered? Failing that, now that we… Read more »

Jo
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Jo

I’m afraid, Father David, that you have missed the most obvious solution: Sodor is the Hebrides (sorry Rev Awdry), and as such the title ought to be merged back under the jurisdiction of the current holder of the bishopric of the Isles – Kevin Pearson of the Scottish Episcopal Church. The only snag is that Man probably has more Anglicans than all of Sodor put together. At least adapting the Gaelic liturgy into Manx Gaelic shouldn’t be too strenuous.

Father Ron Smith
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I’m with Jeremy and others here who accuse the Church of England hierarchy of blatant dishonesty when they state that the lack of preferment of Jeffrey John has “nothing to do with his sexuality”

So blatant a mis-statement should not be allowed to pass the credibility censor. No wonder the Church of England is losing integrity among its LGBTI adherents. Something has to change in the culture of endemic homophobia for the Church of England to be taken seriously on this important issue.

Charles Read
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Charles Read

Father David: have you ever been to the island? It is the place for which the term ‘fiercely independent’ was coined. We had many lovely family holidays there. They have their own money and postage stamps – hence this exchange in Port St Mary Post Office:
Mrs Read: I want to send these postcards to the mainland
Postmaster: This is the mainland
Mrs R: These are going to Manchester
Postmaster: That’s overseas.

David Emmott
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David Emmott

Jeffrey John would make an excellent Dean of Liverpool. And like the previous Dean but two he could function as a bishop at the same time.

Kate
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Kate

The statement “resists” but does not “deny”. In press speak the two are different. Resist typically means we do not think there is any evidence (in public) which supports the accusation; deny means we have evidence to refute it. What more could the C of E spokesman have said? I am sure he didn’t have the authority to admit discrimination. So I don’t think that the C of E response is a story. What is a story is that until the C of E has a positive message of equality we are always going to be looking terrible whenever a… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Kate, if we want to focus on the precise wording, we could go further and say that “would resist” is even softer than “resist.” But no matter how carefully phrased the statement, the point is that the CofE is trying to convince the public that “selections for senior appointments are [not] influenced by the sexuality of candidates.” When everyone knows that is simply not true. The statement is not only false; it’s also insulting. How stupid does the CofE think the public are? Communion and Lambeth 2020 considerations have caused the CofE to try to kick sexuality into the long… Read more »

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

Looks like the elections in the summer of new central members of the Crown Nominations Commission for the period 2017-2022 might be interesting.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Anthony Archer – I quite agree.

My own belief is that the CNC is responding too readily to various pressures from above.

That being so, the chief qualification for the new members will be their independence from the Archbishops.

Do the new central members have backbones? Will they stand up to the pressure?

Rather than allow themselves to be managed into doing what Lambeth and Bishopsthorpe want, will the new central members exercise their own voices and votes?

James Byron
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James Byron

Ironically, elevating John to the purple would’ve been the best way to silence him: even English bishops who define themselves as liberal toe the party line in the name of unity; and John, as he made clear when he condemned John Shelby Spong, ain’t no liberal. He’s a devout Anglo-Catholic who happens to be gay, and if he’d been allowed to take his place on the bishops’ bench, I’d be amazed if his catholicity hadn’t won out.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

As someone with an interest in how social change is mediated by technology, it is fascinating to see the CofE leadership floundering in the face of connected opposition. In Justin Welby’s or John Sentamu’s world, in which they are oddly proud of only having an old Nokia phone which they keep turned off except in emergencies, and who ge their staff to look at Twitbookgram once a week and prepare a handwritten memo outlining what the young people are doing, they can continue to hold as an axiom that if they say “nothing to see here, move along” people will… Read more »

South church in the rabbit warren
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South church in the rabbit warren

I think that’s unfair. Some of Spong’s comments were excitable and uncharitable – I’ve come to regard him as David Jenkins without the good bits (which were many). The Jeffrey John case had a big impact on me. I decided I could not regularly worship in the church I was brought up in. I thought this would be temporary. Twelve years later it’s still going on and I feel the same way. It shreds faith, day by day, but I can’t be part of such an injustice. Is there any chance this will be righted? Is it time (with my… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

John objected to the very concept of theological liberalism, which, given his attitude to the church’s teaching on sexuality, was an awfully selective kinda traditionalism. (To be fair, which kind isn’t?) As for Spong, yes, he’s passionate, or excitable if you prefer. He’s virtually alone among Anglican bishops in popularizing the liberalism taken as given at seminary, then treated as a dirty secret. As a man with the courage of his convictions, I’ve a lota time for him. John may’ve proved the first exception to English episcopal omertà in recent years: it is, unfortunately, likely to remain guesswork. Theological disagreements… Read more »