We note with prayerful concern the revelation that Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham, is in a same sex relationship.
Our understanding is that the nature of his relationship conforms to the guidelines set out by the Bishops, and that he has not been campaigning publicly for a change in the church’s teaching on sex and marriage. 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.
In 2003, Jeffrey John’s candidacy for the post of Bishop of Reading caused deep divisions within the Diocese of Oxford and beyond, and this news about Nicholas Chamberlain will exacerbate the same divisions within the Church of England and throughout the wider Anglican Communion.
In this case the element of secrecy in the appointment to the episcopacy of a man in a same sex relationship gives the impression that it has been arranged with the aim of presenting the church with a ‘fait accompli’, rather than engaging with possible opposition in the spirit of the ‘shared conversations’.
We remain opposed to the guidelines for clergy and Bishops, permitting them to be in same sex relationships as long as they publicly declare that the relationship is not sexual. This creates confusion in terms of the church’s teaching on the nature of sex and marriage, and it is not modelling a helpful way to live, given the reality of our humanity, and temptation to sexual sin.
This news story 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 in are sadly, further diminished.
GAFCON UK exists to provide fellowship and if necessary, an alternative oversight for Anglicans committed to biblical orthodoxy in England, Scotland and Wales, from a range of ecclesial traditions, evangelical and catholic, with special focus on those who are losing confidence in local and national church structures to maintain faithfulness to doctrinal and ethical norms.
The Most Rev. Peter Jensen, General Secretary of Gafcon Global
The Rev Canon Andy Lines, Chairman of the Gafcon UK Task Force