Fourteen gay clergy who have married their partners in defiance of Church of England rules are calling for “full inclusion” of LGBT clergy.
In a letter sent today to all the Church’s bishops, the clergy say: “It is time to respect that a diversity of theology within the Church now exists and that there is more than one understanding of what a faithful Christian may believe on these issues.”
The letter, also signed by eight laity who are church members who have married their partners, is timed deliberately in advance of this month’s meeting of the House of Bishops, who will be discussing the next steps after nearly two years of “shared conversations” on the issue held privately in dioceses around the country.
It also comes after the Bishop of Grantham Nicholas Chamberlain became the first bishop to come out as gay and partnered, and to talk about living with the bishops’ guidelines which stipulate that gay clergy must be celibate.
The divisions over the issue extend beyond the Church of England to the wider Anglican Communion. Members of the LGBT community protested at Canterbury Cathedral earlier this year at the end of a meeting of worldwide Anglican church leaders that imposed “consequences” on the US Episcopal Church for sanctioning gay marriage.
The Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, or Gafcon, has described the appointment of Chamberlain as a “major error”.
In their letter, the 14 clergy, some of which have withheld their names because of privacy and confidentiality issues, write to the bishops: “As you meet to discuss we seek from you a clear lead that offers a way forward to greater inclusion that will enable those parishes that wish to do so to celebrate the love that we have found in our wives and husbands. We hope for an outcome that will enable those who wish to do so to publicly celebrate where we see God at work in the lives of our congregations without fear and in openness. Read more