Saturday, 24 April 2004

Dean of St Albans roundup

Since last Tuesday there have been further reports in the local St Albans papers, and in the church press, all listed below. Coverage of the story outside the UK has been very limited, consisting mainly of copies of the AP story linked earlier.

Also, we failed to list the Guardian’s leader comment from Tuesday, Evangelical veto which concludes with this:

The subdued reaction to Dr John’s appointment suggests that a sobering shame has descended on his opponents after the excitements of last year. That is welcome, if surprising: they had seemed shameless in the heat of the campaign against him. But it does not undo the damage done last year, when it was established that the Church of England is in the last analysis controlled by the large evangelical churches which consider themselves its paymasters.
No one can now be appointed a bishop against their veto, backed up by the threat of financial sanctions. Deans are immune to this kind of pressure. Their salaries are centrally paid and their appointment is made directly from arcane committees. Curiously, this is an argument in favour of the Church’s establishment, which is a mechanism for preserving diversity. The more democratic and congregational the Church becomes, the less tolerant it is likely to be. American churches, operating in a free religious market, tend to hold narrow and exclusive views, whether liberal or conservative. It is the civil war over homosexuality in the US church which is driving the break-up of Anglicanism. In the end, it may be the absurdity of a church which can take so seriously a job like bishop of Reading or dean of St Albans, which preserves it as an oasis of tolerance in a world where religion is increasingly important, and dangerous.

However, yesterday, “Anglican Mainstream” launched a new campaign against Jeffrey John’s appointment (see later report for details) which was reflected in two newspapers today:
Guardian Campaign begins against gay dean
Telegraph Evangelical backlash over gay dean

The Church Times reported the story as New chapter opens for Dr Jeffrey John and carried editorial comment under the headline Jeffrey John’s appointment. Andrew Brown’s weekly press review column analysed coverage, and I have summarised that here. Giles Fraser’s opinion column, which is mostly about something else, mentions it in passing towards the end.

On the other hand, the Church of England Newspaper reports St Albans clergy meet to decide response to John and editorialised The appointment of Dr Jeffrey John (this URL will fail after one week, so archived here for TA readers).

Local newspaper stories:
Herts Advertiser New Dean for St Albans, followed by Gay cleric is the new Dean and sidebar comment City’s warm welcome for Dr John
St Albans Observer Gay dean praises city’s welcoming tradition

Addition
Local Radio report BBC 3 Counties Reaction to gay cleric’s appointment and this one earlier Gay cleric welcomed into role, both with Real Audio links:
Main radio report including key parts of press conference, listen here and
Interview with Patience Purchase the day before the official announcement, listen here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 24 April 2004 at 4:30pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: News