The appointment of gay cleric Jeffrey John as dean of St. Albans Cathedral has once again raised a furor among evangelicals, who want him to resign. The appointment could trigger impaired communion across the Church of England, some evangelical leaders warned.
Last year, Mr. John was forced to withdraw his acceptance of the post of bishop of Reading because of a similar reaction.
The St. Albans Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship said his appointment was a “serious error” of judgment. The group urged Archbishop Christopher Herbert of St. Albans, who had agreed to the appointment, that the appointment be withdrawn.
“Jeffrey John has a well-deserved reputation for being a good, caring pastor. He is a man of prayer, a preacher and teacher of real authority and grace,” Archbishop Herbert said.
Some parishes opposed to the appointment have threatened to withhold part of their donations to the diocese. But there were others who warmly accepted Mr. John’s appointment.
Speaking after his appointment, Mr. John said, “I support the state and the church offering gay people a framework for living their lives. I hope that ultimately the church will be able to bless that kind of relationship too.”
Richard Kirker, general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said Mr. John’s appointment was “a well-aimed kick in the teeth” for those “who so badly misread the mind of the middle-of-the-road English Anglican.”
Rod Thomas, spokesman for the evangelical Anglican group Reform, told Ecumenical News International that Mr. John’s appointment as dean was of “not such immediate concern” as his becoming a bishop, but “raises the same sort of issues.”
With files from Church Times, ENI, Church of England Newspaper