LONDON - The debate regarding the morals of appointing a gay Dean in St Albans continued to heat up this week as more and more church leaders and members made their voices and opinions heard. The installation of Dr Jeffrey John as Dean of St. Albans next month will be boycotted by many members of the St. Albans Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship (DEF).
Canon Nick Bell stated earlier in the week that his “conscience and integrity” were the reasons that he could not attend the event. He also made it clear that this was the view taken by many of his fellow colleagues at the DEF. A mood of “unhappy resignation” was said to be the atmosphere amongst many DEF members.
The Bishop of St. Albans, Rev. Christopher Herbert, made a presidential address to the Diocesan Synod on Saturday. In it he responded to the criticism he had received for his acceptance of the appointment of Dr John. He stated that his intention was not to hurt or offend any of those opposed to Dr John’s views.
The Bishop of St Albans previously had defended his appointment of Canon Jeffrey John as Dean of the Abbey amid a chorus of complaints in the diocese over the appointment.
He now urged patience, and said “I also ask that, just as I recognize the sincerity of the Christian conviction which moves the hearts of those who criticize what I have done, so my own desire to be a disciple of Christ be recognized.”
In response to being questioned, Bishop Herbert made it clear that he would not prevent John from speaking freely in public once he is appointed Dean, particularly on the issue of same-sex blessings.
Also yesterday a leading conservative insisted that Anglicanism’s first openly gay bishop was invalidly consecrated, and called for him to be stripped of his post to save a split in the Worldwide Church. The Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, claimed that Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire must be replaced to prevent the division of the church.
Archbishop Gomez is a member of the Lambeth Commission, which was set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury to find a way to bring peace to the escalating dispute over homosexuality. His words, however, have outraged many liberals within the church, and the division between the segregations has deepened.
A paper was recently prepared for Archbishop Gomez by major theological figures. The proposals were presented to the 17-man Lambeth Commission in a meeting last week in America. The Lambeth Commission is due to release its final report in October, and it could not be needed any more urgently with the future of the modern day Church remaining delicately balanced.