(Andrew Brown) The recent same-sex Anglican wedding exposes a creaking compromise within the church

The marriage of canon Jeremy Pemberton and Laurence Cunnington, the first gay clergy wedding in England, looks like a decisive test of strength within the Church of England between liberals and conservatives. But it may just shift the trenches a few hundred yards. The tangles of employment law and church law make it almost impossible for either side to get all they want.

It looks as if it should be easy for the bishop of Lincoln, in whose diocese the canon works, to discipline Pemberton if he wants to. But Pemberton is not in fact a vicar. He is a hospital chaplain, which means he is employed by the local NHS trust. They are not going to sack him for contracting a perfectly legal marriage. The bishop has no power to get him sacked even if he wanted to.

But this is the Church of England; things are seldom simple….

Read it all (my emphasis).


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4 comments on “(Andrew Brown) The recent same-sex Anglican wedding exposes a creaking compromise within the church

  1. MichaelA says:

    What a strange article (but its Andrew Brown, so I should have expected no less).

    Andrew Brown writes:
    [blockquote] “Conservatives have already made it quite clear that they would attempt to sue any bishop who was, in their opinion, soft on gay marriages.” [/blockquote]
    Does anyone know who these “conservatives” are? All the news reports I have seen are quoting figures from the liberal left like Giles Fraser who earnestly assure us that some (unspecified) conservative wants the church to use the clergy discipline measure against a soft bishop. I am not saying they don’t exist, just that finding someone prepared to name one is not easy.

    In any case, it is difficult to believe that the vast majority of bishops in CofE are capable of disciplining gay clergy who marry. Apart from anything else, that would require the bishop to take *coherent* and *decisive* action. That’s a big ask of most CofE bishops.

    Based on past performance, there is one bishop who might. And he heads the largest See in England. So he might actually take some action that avoids the CofE becoming a complete laughingstock in the eyes of the people of England (as opposed to being mostly a laughingstock, which it is now).

  2. Ralph says:

    “Pemberton is also a lay clerk at Southwell Minster in neighbouring Nottinghamshire, which comes under a different bishop, and there he does operate under a licence known as the bishop’s ‘permission to officiate’.”

    I need help with the English here. Is Mr Pemberton in Holy Orders? If so, then by his actions he has made a de facto renunciation of those orders – something that his bishop can affirm. If he’s a lay person working as a hospital chaplain, then I don’t know what his bishop can do.

  3. William S says:

    Jeremy Pemberton is indeed ordained (diocese of Durham, 1981). At an earlier point in his life he was a committed Evangelical, trained at Ridley Hall and worked for the evangelical Church Mission Society. He led a friend of ours to Christ. Something has changed since those days. 1 Cor 10.12.

  4. Ralph says:

    Then, his bishop need only recognize his decision to resign from Holy Orders. Mr Pemberton would know that this is the natural consequence of his actions. To me, this is very simple.