Friday, 16 April 2004

New Dean of St Albans

Canon Jeffrey John - pictured right - will be the new Dean of St Albans, Ruth Gledhill reports.
The Times Top job for gay cleric. Some excerpts:

DR JEFFREY JOHN, the gay canon forced to stand down as Bishop of Reading, is to be the next Dean of St Albans in an appointment that will generate shock waves throughout the Anglican Communion.
Conservative evangelicals in the Anglican Church, already on the verge of breaking up after the ordination of the gay bishop Gene Robinson in the US and the authorisation of same-sex blessings in Canada, condemned Dr John’s elevation as an “outrage” and predicted that it would take the Church a step closer to schism.
The Times has learnt that Downing Street plans to announce on Tuesday that Dr John, who is in a celibate relationship with his long-term partner, another priest, is to head the chapter at St Albans.

The cathedral has been without a Dean since the Very Rev Christopher Lewis moved to Christ Church, Oxford, last October. Liberals in the diocese have lobbied for months for Dr John, who many believe was treated unfairly over the Reading appointment and who is considered to have all the gifts needed to make an international impact as a preacher.

The initial response to Dr John’s appointment in the St Albans diocese was mixed. Christina Rees, a lay member of the General Synod, said: “He will be a very good Dean for St Albans. He is an excellent theologian and has very good pastoral and interpersonal skills. He will be warmly accepted and welcomed.”
Evangelicals in this country, however, greeted the appointment with caution. Anglican Mainstream, which promotes evangelicalism, said: “The biblical requirement for Christian leaders remains to uphold the Church’s teaching and fashion the life of their household in accordance with that.”

In a second Times article The parable of the two good priests - with one difference Mary Ann Sieghart writes:

OF ALL the priests in the Church of England, the one Jeffrey John most resembles is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. Both men are Welsh, highly intelligent, gifted theologians, transparently good, doctrinally orthodox and socially liberal. Both believe strongly in stable, faithful, monogamous relationships.

So his elevation, at last, to the post of Dean of St Albans will have come as an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. Dr John was under no illusions about the scale of opposition to a gay dean or bishop, notwithstanding the fact that his relationship of 27 years has long been celibate.
In other respects, Dr John has all the attributes of a church leader. As well as having “a brain the size of a planet”, in the words of a fellow priest, he is also hard-working and, perhaps unusually for a theologian, good at pastoral duties too. He was as popular with students when he served as Dean of Divinity at Brasenose and Magdalen colleges, Oxford, as he was as a Vicar at Holy Trinity, Eltham, where he doubled the number of worshippers.

In the Guardian Stephen Bates reports Gay displaced from bishopric given deanery as consolation prize.

Jeffrey John, the celibate gay clergyman at the heart of last year’s Church of England row over his appointment as a bishop, is to receive the consolation prize of being appointed dean of St Albans next week, the Guardian has been told.
Dr John, 53, an Oxford-trained theologian and canon of Southwark Cathedral, was forced to stand down from his appointment as suffragan bishop of Reading last July after protests by evangelicals.
His appointment to a deanery, one step down from a bishopric, may still be controversial to some church conservatives; but last summer his critics drew a distinction between the appropriateness of selecting a gay man to be a bishop, and selecting lesser clergy.

Dr John’s appointment to St Albans will be warmly greeted by liberal Anglicans.
Even evangelicals opposed to last year’s appointment conceded that he was in all other respects eminently qualified for a bishopric.

BBC report Gay cleric in line for senior job
Press Association report Gay Cleric to Take Up Senior Anglican Post - Report

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 16 April 2004 at 11:48 PM GMT | TrackBack
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