Conservative Anglicans condemn first bishop to come out as gay

The Church of England has been internally divided over the issue of same-sex relationships for several years

Siobhan Fenton
Social Affairs Correspondent
Saturday 03 September 2016 18:06 BST
The Bishop of Grantham is in a long term relationship
The Bishop of Grantham is in a long term relationship

A Church of England bishop’s announcement that he is gay has been condemned by conservative Anglicans, who say they now believe his appointment was a “major error” and promised to pray for him.

Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham, came out after a newspaper threatened to reveal his sexuality. He has confirmed he is in a celibate same-sex relationship, telling the Guardian: “People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on.”

The conservative Anglican group Gafcon has issued a statement condemning the announcement as a “serious cause for concern”. They said: “We note with prayerful concern the revelation that Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham, is in a same-sex relationship.

“We do not doubt that he has many gifts as a leader and pastor. However, there are aspects of this appointment which are a serious cause for concern for biblically orthodox Anglicans around the world, and therefore we believe that this appointment is a major error.”

They added: “This news will be seen by many orthodox Anglicans as yet more evidence that the clear biblical teaching in the Church of England on sin and salvation, human personhood, singleness, sex and marriage is being eroded and conformed to the values of secular society. While we pray for Bishop Chamberlain, our confidence in the processes by which he was appointed are sadly further diminished.”

The Church of England has been fiercely divided over same-sex relationships in recent years. More liberal elements of the faith have proposed allowing clergy to marry same-sex spouses, whereas groups such as Gafcon have been vocal in their stance that any same-sex unions are sinful.

For the past two years, the Church has undertaken internal discussions on the issue. Speaking at a conference recently, Archbishop Justin Welby has said he is “consumed with horror” at the church’s treatment of some LGBT people.

Following Bishop Chamberlain’s announcement, Archbishop Welby issued a statement in support of him, saying: “His sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office.”

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