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Gay Anglican Rector Faces Parishioner Backlash Over 'Gay Wedding' Plan

A gay Anglican clergyman in England is facing opposition from his parishioners because he plans to hold a service in his local church to bless his civil partnership, reports The Telegraph.

Although Anglican clergy are banned from marrying same-sex partners, lesbian and gay Anglican priests are permitted to enter civil partnerships and can also become bishops if they claim to be celibate.

St. petersThe Reverend Dominic McClean, the Rector of 13 parishes in Leicestershire, invited parishioners to the service in St Peter’s Church in Market Bosworth this weekend to mark his civil union with his partner, Tony Hodges.  

The service was approved by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Reverend Tim Stevens, who led the Church of England’s opposition in the House of Lords to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

According to McClean, the service is designed to be neither a blessing nor a wedding but a service of thanksgiving and dedication:

“This sort of service has been taking place in the Church of England for some years now. We’ve had an awful lot of support about this from across the benefice.

I think there are one or two people who have not been comfortable with the fact of having a priest who is gay and there are some people that find it difficult and I can understand that.”

However, Aubrey Chalmers, a member of the Parochial Church Council in one of McClean’s parishes, has written in protest to Bishop Stevens and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, describing the service as “deeply divisive and repugnant to many people”:

“A person’s private life is entirely their own affair, provided it doesn’t cause any harm or injure other people nobody is going to interfere.

Here we have what is effectively a high profile demonstration where the parish priest is able to use his own church for his own gay wedding in all but name and has upset a lot of people. Now the Bishop of Leicester, who was very vocal in the House of Lords in his opposition to gay marriage, has given his consent.”

Chalmers added that several parishioners have pledged to sever their links with the church and that at least one church warden is planning to resign in protest of a “gay wedding in all but name” in the Church of England.

Church Of England Faces Legal Challenge After Blocking Job Offer To Married Gay Priest

The Rev Jeremy Pemberton (left) with his husband Laurence Cunnington
The Reverend Jeremy Pemberton (left) with his husband Laurence Cunnington

The Reverend Jeremy Pemberton, the first UK priest to marry his same-sex partner, is to issue a legal challenge to the Church of England after the church blocked a job offer, reports The Guardian.

Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April, was informed Sherwood Forest Hospitals trust had withdrawn its offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

Anglican clergy are allowed to enter civil partnerships, but the House of Bishops has banned same-sex marriage, at least until a two-year discussion process within the church has been completed.

However, the legal process for disciplining clergy who ignore the ban is untested. Pemberton has said that if he did not challenge the church’s position, “it will send a message to all chaplains of whom a considerable number are gay and lesbian. This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be. It is tragic and disappointing that bishops think they can get away with this. I have not been through any disciplinary process.

Pemberton currently works in the diocese of Lincoln which is in the ecclesiastical province of Canterbury. The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that he will leave individual cases to the bishops involved. However, Pemberton lives in Southwell in the province of York and the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has been a vociferous opponent of gay marriage.

In a statement, Inwood said he made his decision regarding Pemberton’s job offer after consultation with Sentamu.

According to The Independent, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has threatened to out Anglican bishops he believes to be in same-sex relationships of they discipline gay clergy for marrying their partners.

In April, Welby said that he'd been warned while on his visit to South Sudan that the Church of England accepting gay marriage could lead to some communities believing having Christians among them could make them gay and reacting by murdering the Christians

Head of Anglican Church Says Embracing Gay Marriage Could Lead to Murder of African Christians

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England, has warned that embracing same-sex marriage could inadvertently lead to the persecution and murder of Christians around in the world, particularly in Africa.

Justin welbyIn an interview with LBC on Friday, Welby said that he'd been warned while on his visit to South Sudan that the Church of England accepting gay marriage could lead to some communities believing having Christians among them could make them gay and reacting by murdering the Christians. As such, he cautioned the church to refrain from making any drastic doctrinal changes, such as allowing members to carry out same-sex marriage ceremonies. 

"What we say here is heard around the world," the Archbishop, who had earlier revealed that the average Church of England worshipper is a sub-Saharan African woman in her 30s, responded.

"Well, why can’t we just do it now? Because, the impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Nigeria and other places, would be absolutely catastrophic, and we have to love them as much as we love the people who are here.

"At the same time, we have to listen incredibly carefully to the LGBT communities here, and listen to what they’re saying, and we have to look at the tradition of the church, and the teaching of the church, and the teaching of scripture, which is definitive in the end, before we come to a conclusion.

Throughout the interview (which you can check out here), Welby appeared to be trying to appease both religious tradiitonalists and those who want the church to recognize LGBT equality. To his credit, Welby recognized the damage that homophobic behavior causes on LGBT individuals, particularly teens.

Back in July, the Church of England introduced a campaign to combat homophobic bullying in schools across the UK.  

Church Sign: 'Some Ppl are Gay. Get Over It, Love GOD'


A church sign at the All Saints Anglican Church in Chermside, north of Brisbane, Australia has "overwhelming support from local parishioners" according to the Herald Sun.

Said Pastor Julie Woolner: "I do believe spirituality is far bigger than sexuality,’’ she said. “And I did find most of the parishioners here took a positive view of that sign."

Church of England: Growing Support for Gay Marriage is 'Not a Case for Changing Obedience to God'

WelbyWith marriage equality in the United Kingdom now law, the Church of England has found itself in a bit of a pickle in terms of how to address the UK's changing attitude on homosexuality. While the Church has taken positive steps recently, such as its new campaign to combat homophobic bullying in schools across the country, the official doctrine of classifying homosexuality as sin remains firmly in place.

Justin Welby (pictured right), the Archbishop of Canterbury and senior bishop in the Church of England, says that despite the Church's opposition to marriage equality being 'utterly overwhelmed' by vocal supporters, Christian views on same-sex relations should not change. Pink News reports:

"Addressing over 6,000 people at [a Church of England] conference, he said it would be 'foolish' to ignore the 'revolution' of same-sex marriage coming into law in England and Wales.

"He acknowledged that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which has now received Royal Assent, had support from all parties, but said that was not enough for Christians to change from their 'obedience to God.'

"Archbishop Welby voted against equal marriage in the House of Lords, and had said he could hear the 'roar of revolution' on listening to debate around the issue.

"The Church of England had opposed the same-sex marriage bill until June, when it said that it accepted that there was a clear majority in Parliament to introduce same-sex marriage and that it would therefore end its opposition to changing the law."



Church of England Introduces Campaign To Stop Homophobic Bullying In Schools

WelbySome good news out of Great Britain. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury (pictured left), has recently announced a campaign to stop homophobic bullying in Church of England schools across the country.

In an address to the Church's General Synod, Welby said that the Church must "accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality," and work to stamp out stereotyping and bullying.

BBC News reports:

"Pretending that nothing has changed is absurd and impossible," the archbishop said in his first presidential address to the synod, meeting at the University of York.

"The majority of the population rightly detests homophobic behavior or anything that looks like it and sometimes they look at us and see what they don't like," he said.

"With nearly a million children educated in our schools we not only must demonstrate a profound commitment to stamp out such stereotyping and bullying but we must also take action.

"We are therefore developing a programme for use in our schools, taking the best advice we can find anywhere, that specifically targets such bullying."

In his address, Welby quoted gay Labour peer Lord Waheed Alli, who told the House of Lords that 97% of gay teenagers in the country report homophobic bullying. He later mentioned the tragic gay teen suicides here in the United States over the years as a direct result of homophobic bullying. "One cannot sit and listen to that sort of reality without being appalled," Welby said. 

While the changes are no doubt a step in the right direction, Weby stressed that the Church was not changing its teachings on gay relationships. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said that in light of the archbishop's opposition the gay marriage bill in the House of Lords last month, the new changes should be more scrutinized.

"Of course we will always help an education provider in helping tackle homophobic bullying in schools and there are already several dozen Church of England schools working with Stonewall but a cynic would be tempted to think perhaps that the archbishop is trying to distract attention from his failure engage gay people when they requested it over the issue of marriage."  


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