Jeffrey John: Reaction

One of the more outrageous elements of the fiasco over Rowan Williams’ support, then withdrawal of support, of Jeffrey John as the next bishop of Southwark was his  suggestion that he had withdrawn his support because he did not want to be “pressured” into support for or against a particular candidate. But if, as appears to be the case, the leak came from Johns’ opponents, that us precisely what he has done: he has allowed the evangelicals to influence him to derail the nomination of his own favoured candidate, the one who was clearly the most talented, and the most suitable for this specific diocese. Read the rest of this entry »

Presbyterians Approve Gay Clergy.

To balance the disappointment over Jeffrey John in the UK Anglican church, US Presbyterians have voted to approve the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy without any expectation of celibacy. This is not quite the breakthrough it might seem – the General Assembly has voted the same way before, but failed to get ratification at local level.

This year the chances are better, with a strongly supportive new Moderator, who has said that inclusion is a matter of simple justice and a Gospel imperative.

Here’s the introduction and a link to the report from AP. I will have more later.

Presbyterian leaders approve gay clergy policy

MINNEAPOLIS — Presbyterian leaders voted Thursday to allow non-celibate gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy, approving the first of two policy changes that could make their church one of the most gay-friendly major Christian denominations in the U.S.

But the vote isn’t a final stamp of approval for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or its more than 2 million members.

Delegates voted during the church’s general assembly in Minneapolis, with 53 percent approving the more liberal policy on gay clergy. A separate vote is expected later Thursday on whether to change the church’s definition of marriage from between “a man and a woman” to between “two people.”

(Read the full report)

Jeffrey John Blocked – Again

In a most disappointing move, Jeffrey John will Not, after all, be the next Anglican bishop of Southwark.

It seems that part of the reason may have been the breach of confidentiality. Rowan Williams is said to have been furious, and insisted that he would not be “pressured” into backing any one candidate. Interestingly, a report from the Guardian earlier this week was that “sources” were that the leak had been engineered by the evangelical faction.

Part of the build-up to this was news that the evangelicals were “furious” at John’s nomination. Others will be furious that an obviously talented, capable and much-loved candidate, with close personal knowledge of Southwark diocese, has been blocked on purely ideological grounds.

From the Guardian:

Gay clergyman blocked from becoming bishop

Jeffrey John barred from becoming Bishop of Southwark – the second time that he has failed to be appointed to such a senior position following a row over his sexuality Read the rest of this entry »

“Incompatible With Scripture”: Jeffrey John on Sexuality & Sanity

The news that Jeffrey John is  a leading candidate to be the next Anglican bishop has caused some panic to break out on the conservative religious blogosphere: the inappropriately and misleadingly named “Anglican Mainstream” has called for an urgent day of prayer to forestall this impending calamity. Virtue Online has dredged up and posted an address he gave back in 1998 on the theme of homosexuality in the Anglican clergy. I am grateful to David Virtue. No doubt he thinks he has posted it as some kind of “warning”:  I read it as prescient.  In the dozen years since he gave this address, years before he was first named and then asked to withdraw as bishop of Reading, the Anglican church has moved a long way, here and world-wide. But instead of simply reading the address as dated, I see it as a mirror for the present state of play in the Catholic church: exactly the same allegations of clerical and episcopal hypocrisy apply to the Church of Rome. More interesting, is that when I put this alongside the small, hopeful signs I see of an imminent shift in emphasis by Catholic bishops, I wonder if we in the Catholic church will also be able to look back twelve years hence, and to note some useful changes.

But that is speculation. Far more useful at this stage is just to read and enjoy John’s wisdom – and humour. I loved his story of the run-around he was given years before when first applying for ordination. The church authorities had established from medical records that Johns was possible gay, and had referred him for psychiatric evaluation:

So l had to go and be checked by the ACCM psychiatrist. This was the first time I realized that in seeking ordination I was entering a danger zone. I was furious that it had happened. but I duly trotted down to London from Oxford one Saturday morning and arrived at a remarkably dingy practice in Battersea. It was the sort of place one might imagine a back street abortionist to operate in, a tiny surgery with peeling wallpaper lit by one fly-blown naked lightbulb. This apparently was the Church of England’s psychiatric HQ. But the truly remarkable thing was the ACCM psychiatrist, whom at first I took to be a patient, since he was dressed in a leather jacket with studs and chains, leather boots, tight jeans, very long dark hair, and a cerise chiffon scarf. When he introduced himself as the ACM psychiatrist, I began to wonder if this was some sort of entrapment procedure – perhaps I was supposed to respond to the uniform and try to get off with him, whereupon an ACCM official would leap out from behind a curtain and say ‘Aha. Got you red-handed’

That did not happen. We had a cup of tea instead, and a cosy chat about family and feelings. Nothing at all about sexuality, nor the entry on my medical record, which was the reason I was there. After tea he said, since he realized I was more than a little angry about what had happened, that he would write his report on me right away so that l could see it myself and post it to ACCM on my way home. So he did. He wrote, ‘Dear ACCM Secretary, I have examined Mr John and conclude that he is a good deal saner than those who sent him to me. Yours sincerely,…’. I posted it in the box outside. Read the rest of this entry »