Divided church seeks divine intervention

Jonathan Foster visits Lincoln Cathedral as it strives to heal wounds after dean's acquittal

A divine rapid reaction force was implored yesterday to intervene in the bitterly-divided Anglican enclave around Lincoln Cathedral as the dean, acquitted of adultery, returned jauntily to clerical duties.

The Very Rev Brandon Jackson, 60, presided over communion for the first time since ending 17 months in the wilderness over allegations that he twice fondled a verger, 32-year-old Verity Freestone.

A church court last week decided the alleged fondling had not taken place, but desperate groping for power continues between the populist dean's supporters and their critics around the episcopal throne.

The Bishop of Lincoln, The Rt Rev Robert Hardy, was preaching 200 miles away in Kent when Dean Jackson told the congregation: "I am very glad to be back in harness to continue our shared mission."

But several members of the chapter, the "cabinet" government which is supposed to share administration of the diocese, were absent, understood to be skulking in the cloisters.

God's powers of love and forgiveness could remedy all Lincoln's troubles, the dean said. "The dark cloud which has settled over this cathedral is still here, but I still dare to believe in God's power."

The dean had earlier blamed the bishop for "disgracefully" allowing Ms Freestone's allegations to be detailed in public before the consistory court. He suspects a conspiracy, with roots deep in diocesan politics, had been hatched to get rid of him. But yesterday he spoke of love and forgiveness.

So did Canon John Bayley, in whose parish the cathedral stands. Preaching the sermon, Canon Bayley also summoned God to intervene, although he warned that the "gift of love is not going to flow out of us" without first allowing God to guide earthly actions.

"We all prostrate ourselves in penitence before God our judge and try to measure our behaviour. Is there honesty or love or forgiveness in our hearts, or should we confess to God that we don't know how to love, how to forgive the way that Jesus teaches us?"

The service ended with Stainer's hymn of boundless redemption: "There's a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea."

The Lincoln laity have been "confused and distressed" by the rifts, to such an extent that a Chapter letter yesterday offered them counselling. Most were pleased to welcome back their dean, but the clerical quarrels are too esoteric and irritating to involve the average worshipper.

If the Church of England is still the Tory party at prayer, the cabinet crisis of the Lincoln chapter is more likely to alienate than polarise. Dean Jackson, dubbed "Thatcher's vicar" after his appointment to bring fiscal discipline to the Chapter, is held privately in contempt by cloister intellectuals. But clerics were yesterday circulating a makeshift ecclesiastical lobby like Sir Marcus Fox in a dog collar, claiming implausibly that the trouble was more to do with presentation than policy.

Dean Jackson mixed with worshippers over coffee in the chapter house. The women seemed pleased to have him back in circulation, and the men praised him for the virtue middle England laity admire most in their priests.

"He's very approachable, and you can understand his sermons, which is more than you can say for that lot who want him out," one man said. And then the congregation united against the media, expelling reporters from the coffee morning after one asked if Dean Jackson favoured Gold Blend.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash