A modern move by the Church of England
The Bishop of Grantham, Nicholas Chamberlain, has become the first bishop in The Church of England to admit that he is in an openly gay relationship. Amid controversy regarding the announcement the bishop revealed that he has made no secret of his sexuality to those involved in his appointment and that they were fully aware of his relationship status.
The bishop revealed his relationship in an interview with The Guardian after another Sunday newspaper threatened to reveal it in a full page spread. He told the newspaper that he never planned to make his announcement public as he didn’t see it as a huge deal but had to act after he was threatened by the, as yet, unnamed news outlet.
The move has been celebrated by LGBTQ campaigners as a progressive step towards modernising the church and many have commended his bravery despite his unwillingness to publicise his relationship. Despite this though there have been those that oppose the move with Gafcon, a conservative group including Anglicans outside of the UK, believing that Chamberlain’s appointment as Bishop of Grantham was a “major error” and “a serious cause for concern for biblically orthodox Anglicans around the world,” Same-sex marriages were legalised in the UK in December 2014, but the Church of England remains opposed, and gay members of the clergy are banned from marrying.
In reserved support for the bishop Justin Welby, the Church of England’s most senior bishop, said: “I am and have been fully aware of Bishop Nick’s long-term, committed relationship.”
“His appointment as bishop of Grantham was made on the basis of his skills and calling to serve the church in the diocese of Lincoln. He lives within the bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office.” The Bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, who along with Welby approved Chamberlain’s consecration also saw no relevance of sexuality to the appointment.
There is hope that, although glacially slow, the church is beginning to embrace modern views of sexuality, marriage, and relationships.