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Priest in the Church of England denied license from Dio Winchester because he is married to a man

Priest in the Church of England denied license from Dio Winchester because he is married to a man

JeremyDaviesDA5428P26 (Read-Only).jpg-pwrt3The Revd Canon Jeffrey Davies was Canon Precentor of Salisbury Cathedral for 25+ years. He has since retired and has been in demand as a lecturer and preacher in both the UK and the USA. He married his partner of 30 years, opera singer Simon McEnery last year. He had been asked to take future services at Winchester Cathedral, near his home, after having served there a number of times in the recent past. He had applied for a license from the Bishop of Winchester. His application has been denied.

Canon Jeremy Davies made an application earlier this year for permission to officiate in the Diocese of Winchester. Due to the Church of England’s position on same sex marriage, as set out in the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance, Canon Jeremy Davies has been informed that his application has been unsuccessful.

Diocesan Spokesperson

The image and story are from the Salisbury Journal


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Cynthia Katsarelis

Church of England is just messed up. Despite the fact that the majority of their members support equal marriage, the CoE hierarchy have behaved horrifically towards its gay clergy and even lay readers. In addition to this indignity, another priest who legally married, Jeremy Pemberton, was denied a license to work as an NHS Chaplain in one diocese, though he continues to hold that position with the NHS in a different diocese. The Archbishop of York withdrew the license of a lay reader who is gay. This is brutal discrimination, and it is being applied in some diocese but not others. The ones who are administering this punishment claim that they are doing it because getting civil married is against the teachings of the church…

Fueling and continuing this dynamic is this idea they have in CoE that a bishop must be “a focus of unity.” And the higher ups have decided that brutal, homophobic, discrimination is in “unity” while compassion and moderation are not. Plenty of Brits are appalled, but there’s something about their culture (CoE, maybe English, I don’t know) where they do not feel empowered to speak, to take actions, and say “enough.” I guess it’s the hierarchical nature of their governance structures.

This is not going to change fast. Bishops are selected by the Crown Nominating Committee (or Commission), 18 people of whom only 6 are from the diocese with the opening. The guidelines given to them by the Archbishop of Canterbury go on about being a “focus of unity” and suggests that people who have spoken in favor of LGBTQ inclusion would be disqualified for consideration. In the ABC’s mind, apparently, there’s “unity” around bigotry towards gays. An awful lot of recent appointments of bishops are of the evangelical, conservative persuasion, just like Justin. The women who’ve been selected have been pretty quiet on LGBTQ inclusion.

We are a church that listens to many voices. They are a top-down institution where the old men (mostly white, the ABY is from Uganda and is awful on LGBTQ people) are just cramming this hate down everyone’s throat. At least they don’t pretend to talk about the Good News or mission.

Prof Christopher Seitz

Your concerns are very real ones. The conservative Bishops who argued for their historical account of the polity of TEC were disciplined, silenced, and their successors put on notice. This church will soon be monolithic. One sees this desire here at the Lead. But I believe that TEC has set its course direction and auto-pilot is engaged. It is all inevitable now. The question isn’t decline, but rather viability.

Philip B. Spivey

What riles me, and what riles most Episcopalians of good will, is that the Conservatives (aka, Traditionalists) act as if they are being victimized. If by being victimized they mean, having to respect alternate viewpoints about Scripture and church doctrine within the Anglican Communion, then they are victims— of an evolving world. Even God evolves: We can all acknowledge that the God of the Hebrew Testament is different from the God in the Christian Testament. I dare say, my faithful Conservatives, that the God of our understanding in the year 2215 will be different, as well.

The irony of course, is that the Traditionalists aren’t victims of anything more than an anthropological shift in our society. However, in 2015, they have created their own share of casualties in the church with the imprimatur—“guardians of the faith”. Echos of times past.

Cynthia Katsarelis

The problem with conservative bishops being able to rule as they see fit, is that they have POWER over other people. Sadly, they generally use this power to exclude and demean whole populations of people, be it gay or in some cases, female.

So the problem in TEC is how to make space for conservatives without allowing them to demean others? In urban and suburban regions, people can choose their parish, liberal, moderate, or conservative. So there is clearly room for conservatives there. But having a bishop who insists on exclusion throughout “their” diocese is demeaning to whomever he or she (it’s always “he”) excludes, and they generally have no options. Though I have heard of a case at St. Stephen’s in North Dakota where the conservative bishop is allowing alternative episcopal oversight for a liberal parish. That looks hopeful.

If the conservatives weren’t so eager to exclude me, demean me, and disrespect my marriage, by misuse of power, it would be an easier conversation.

Br. Gregory Shy, CoS

I think we have to acknowledge that we are dealing with ongoing difficulties between two radically different views of “progress” in the church. For the traditionalist party, the faith once delivered to the Apostles is the “same yesterday, today and forever,” and they can certainly point to lots of texts in Scripture, the Fathers and the Saints to resist change/innovation. For the progressives, we are “listening to the Spirit” and engaging in discernment and standing up for “the least of these” in the world.
For “the world” we’re both pretty much the same, worn out, useless rags of the past. The growth of “nones” is most noticeable in the Christian West due to the cultural shifts of the industrialized West. We should note, however, that other non-Christian industrialized nations are seeing a great fall in interest in religion as well. Japan, I was interested to hear recently, has seen many Buddhist temples close and fall out of use over the last 50 years due to lack of attendance and use. This suggests that the “falling numbers” is not just a problem created by a “decadent, liberal Christianity.”
I am saddened that the Canon Precentor is being held out for “discipline.” I am sad when traditionalist conservatives feel that there is no home for them as a “minority presence” in TEC at least to the extent that their views are just that, a minority now. Power and control are the big subtext here. Controlling other seems to carry the additional subtext of being “in the right” and not-controlling or enforcing one’s particular views means “being ostracized.” Must it always be so? Is there still a “via media” for us? I honestly don’t know.

Susan Forsburg

Every denomination is shrinking. Ex-Roman Catholics are one of the largest groups in the US. The RC church is mainly held up by immigrants; weddings and baptisms are on the decline. The Southern Baptists have noted with alarm their declining numbers. Evangelical mega-churches have substantial turnover.

Institutional religion is in decline. That’s why the fastest growing religious identity in the US is “none”. It’s not whether they are conservative or liberal, atheist or deist, it’s the institution itself, and thus the ageless question of how much to change, or not change.

Fr Enoch Opuka

The sole purpose of the church is to make disciples. The question we should be asking is “why are numbers in Episcopal Church dwindling? “

Cynthia Katsarelis

The sole purpose is not exclusively making disciples. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, and loving our neighbor as ourselves (whether they are Muslim, gay, black, white, whatever) are what we are commanded to do.

Why is TEC shrinking? Because we live in a secular age where all religious denominations in the West are shrinking. As Ann says, church going used to be socially obligatory. Now it isn’t. So people who show up feel called.

Is there growth in TEC? Yes, there is growth in many liberal parishes. The conservative ones are shrinking. The conservative ones have the oldest demographic, and many are rural. Liberal ones are more likely to have young families.

So your own argument, shrinking = bad theology, growth = good theology, favors the inclusive churches.

JC Fisher

The sole purpose of the Church is to “Preach the Gospel (use words only when necessary)”.

Will that make disciples? We can plant & water, but God gives the growth!

If we ARE “using words” however, that’s going to involve telling people to take up their cross: it’s little wonder to me that this is not really popular (per Ann below).

Ann Fontaine

I know why– when I was a child and young adult – it was the place of movers and shakers – a place to make deals and hang out with the important people. Now we are moving to the margins because we believe that is where we are called. No surprise — people are not flocking to us. We don’t promise wealth or success or a place of social status. I still remember the first time I served on a vestry and asked the men (all were men but me) as discussed some choices for the church – “what do you think God would want us to do?” and “should we pray?” and they looked at me like I was from the moon. One said – “what does God have to do with this?” We are no longer the “in crowd” — that is why those who join are more interested in a deeper life with God — but we are not in a popularity contest.

Leslie Marshall

Good question. It’s a choice of being in the world, or being set apart. If we stay in the world, then the Church just gets swallowed up with every other system.

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