Thinking Anglicans

LGBTI Mission: The Bishop of Grantham

The LGBTI Mission has issued this statement:

LGBTI Mission: Statement about the Bishop of Grantham

The LGBTI Mission welcomes the openness that Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain has shown in revealing personal information about himself, while we deplore the media threat which has led to the need for this to happen. We assure him of our love and prayers, extending to his partner, his colleagues, and his wider family.

We are pleased that the forthcoming College of Bishops meeting will now have at least one openly LGBTI voice in their discussion of what next steps the Church of England should take in regard to same-sex relationships. We hope this will lead to increased openness among bishops so that burden does not long remain on the Bishop of Grantham alone.

The Guardian reports that Bishop Nicholas himself has said:
“I will speak [at the meeting], and this part of me will be known. I hope I’ll be able to be a standard-bearer for all people as a gay man. And I really hope that I’ll be able to help us move on beyond matters of sexuality,”
And, asked whether other bishops might follow his lead in openly declaring their sexuality, he said: “I really can only speak for myself. If I’m an encouragement to others, that would be great.”

We are also pleased that both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Lincoln have expressed their unequivocal support for him, and confirmed that they made his appointment with full knowledge of his circumstances. But we regret that when announcing senior appointments the Church still adheres to a discriminatory policy of purposeful concealment. It is this policy which has lead directly to the discomfort which Bishop Nicholas is now experiencing.

The need to review the absurd and cruel double standard still applied in relation to sexual conduct of the clergy remains an urgent task for the Church.


  • Exacto, “absurd and cruel double standards” are spiritually unhealthy when used against LGBTI Anglicans/others at ANY PROVINCE of the Anglican Communion…heavy on the CRUEL!

    Leonard Clark

  • Froghole says:

    The ink is barely dry on the diocesan press release, yet the poundland Quixotes of Gafcon are already in sight, lances in hand and at the gallop:

    Mention is made in this piece of the so-called shared conversations being at an end. Yes, indeed. The only dialogue Gafcon understands is that of the deaf; rather, their stock negotiating ploy is akin to one common in certain quarters in the early 1940s: “donne-moi ta montre, et je te donnerai l’ heure”.

    The unconscionable invasion of the bishop’s privacy aside, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh at the predicament in which the Church now finds itself.

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    We can only support Nicholas Chamberlain and all gay clergy couples, in a hostile media and Church.

    I write as a married priest – albeit ‘retired’.

    I have been with my Michael for over 43 years.

    Michael and I were ‘out’ (it’s just ordinary life, you know) at Salisbury and Wells Theological College, and known to Mervyn Stockwood who ordained me, in Southwark Diocese.

    But the prejudices and double-speak we faced made life hard for two young people full of optimism, hope, and zeal for living the gospel.

  • When 10 Downing Street makes its formal announcements about episcopal appointments (presumably announcements provided by the Church), they always mention the person who is married to the new bishop, if that person is of the opposite sex.

    It seems appallingly unpastoral that gay or lesbian husbands or wives get ‘erased’ from these announcements. They too support the new bishop’s life and ministry. Don’t they count as well? Are they non-persons? Are we meant to pretend that they don’t exist?

  • cseitz says:

    Am I reading it correctly that this Bishop is not pushing for same sex marriage but is defending the traditional teaching still in place?

  • Kate says:

    Susannah, the important question is to determine who chose to withhold that information. Was it Nicholas or the Bishop or Ten Downing Street?

  • peter kettle says:

    Susannah – ‘Are we meant to pretend that they don’t exist?’

    Yes, and that’s why the whole thing has gone pear-shaped.

  • Anthony Archer says:

    I think Professor Christopher R. Seitz is slightly ahead of himself. The Bishop is saying nothing about same sex marriage and/or the traditional teaching. He is merely saying that he is gay, in a same-sex relationship and living in conformity with IIHS, the somewhat vexed statement of the House of Bishops from 1991, which has assumed doctrinal status.

  • Andrew Godsall says:

    “Am I reading it correctly that this Bishop is not pushing for same sex marriage but is defending the traditional teaching still in place?”

    Christopher if you can point to anywhere that is either said or implied it would be helpful. He doesn’t seem to be saying much at all other than that he is gay, has a partner, and it isn’t a big deal.

  • Perry Butler says:

    ” it isn’t a big deal” Were many congregations a buzz yesterday about +Grantham or threats of schism? Mine wasn’t not a word…

  • cseitz says:

    I didn’t read any of this as a robust statement in favor of ss marriage or even much of a pro LGBT statement at all. From the Guardian:

    Chamberlain said he adhered to church guidelines, under which gay clergy must be celibate and are not permitted to marry.

    In a statement, Welby said: “He lives within the bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office.”

    In a letter to parishes in his diocese, Lowson said: “I am satisfied now, as I was at the time of his appointment, that Bishop Nicholas fully understands, and lives by, the House of Bishops’ guidance on issues in human sexuality.”

    Chamberlain said, “I don’t think we’ve reached a position where the church is going to be marrying same-sex couples,” he said. He declined to express objections to the C of E’s celibacy rule for gay clergy. “My observation of human beings over the years has shown me how much variety there is in the way people express their relationships. Physical expression is not for everyone.”

  • Paul Richardson says:

    “living in conformity with IIHS, the somewhat vexed statement of the House of Bishops from 1991, which has assumed doctrinal status.”

    Antony Archer is right to suggest that this is somewhat vexed statement. What is really meant by “celibate” in this context? The Government “Equal Marriage” legislation specifically excludes Adultery as a ground for divorce. Is this because of the difficulty of proving such a thing in a same sex marriage where the heterosexual act of “coitus” which constitutes such adultery can not be committed?

    I cannot imagine that the Church is prepared to define exactly what its sex inquisitors will or will not allow so it is difficult to see how “Issues” can continue as guide in our current situation post acceptance of Civil Partnership for clergy and calls for recognising the Equal Marriage of clergy.

    It does however raise issues about how the Church can review the doctrine of marriage and the provision of suitable liturgy to include LGBTI. We need a complete review of IIHS following the recent shared conversations and a clear steer from next week’s College of Bishops on how this might begin.

  • Jeremy says:

    A “clear steer” from the College of Bishops on anything to do with human sexuality?

    I’m not holding my breath.

    Methinks that IIHS will never be explicitly withdrawn or overruled. It will simply be abandoned in practice.

    Much like the so-called Anglican Covenant–which went nowhere because it was neither a covenant nor Anglican.

  • Jeremy Pemberton says:

    Jeremy’s analogy is not very apt. The Covenant went nowhere in the England because it was voted down by most diocesan synods, and therefore it never got back to General Synod. If IIHS and the policy based upon it was brought to all the English diocesan synods I have a sneaky feeling that the same thing might happen again. Which is one reason why nothing like a policy on same-sex anything has ever got near any synodical process. The pews are ahead of the leadership on this one.

  • Kate says:

    “The pews are ahead of the leadership on this one.”

    Are they, Jeremy? Or is it that the mass of laity are free to express themselves because there is no way to sanction them whereas for those in orders “careers” are at stake. You had the courage of your convictions; how many do?

  • Jeremy says:

    Jeremy P, you are right with respect to England.

    Yet many other provinces did adopt the so-called Anglican Covenant.

    Even so, for years, nothing has been heard about it. It seems that at the Communion level, the so-called Anglican Covenant has been quietly abandoned.

    A good thing, of course. But it may give a hint about what to expect with regard to other conservative fortifications that are proving untenable.

    To expect any hierarchy openly to admit defeat and withdrawal may be too much.

    So the message these days seems to be “Anglican Covenant? Never heard of it.”

    Ten years from now the message on IIHS might be similar. Let us hope, at any rate.

  • Richard says:

    Seven of 38 provinces acceded to the Covenant. I would not call that “many.”

  • One feature of internet argument – post Grantham – has been the challenge to sola-Scriptura critics on the relative merits of consensual heterosexual contraception, that allows for non-procreational sex; and homosexuality, which has no other option but is considered by the critics as ‘perverse’.

  • Am I reading it correctly that this Bishop is not pushing for same sex marriage but is defending the traditional teaching still in place?

    Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 4 September 2016 at ’12:41pm BST”

    I don’t think you really need an answer, Christopher. This is a rhetorical question.

  • ” It seems that at the Communion level, the so-called Anglican Covenant has been quietly abandoned.” – Jeremy –

    The odd thing, I suspect about the Covenant situation, is that some GAFCON provinces have apparently adopted it – probably hoping that they might influence the rest of the Anglican Communion re its prohibitive functions.

    The irony is that, now that the Mother Church of England has abandoned the Covenant, GAFCON might use it as their own new rallying cry. If so, that might help the upcoming split.

  • cseitz says:

    Ron Smith–the Guardian quotes pretty much speak for themselves.

  • Jeremy says:

    Richard, the No Anglican Covenant list shows nine provinces. And those nine do not include Kenya, Nigeria, or Uganda, the provincial leaders of which have suggested that the so-called covenant did not go far enough. But fair point re: “many.”

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