CofE bishop reveals he is in a gay relationship

Bishop Chamberlain is said to be in a long-term - but celibate - relationship.
Bishop Chamberlain is said to be in a long-term – but celibate – relationship.

The bishop of Grantham has become the first Church of England bishop to say that he is gay and in a relationship.

Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain, a suffragan in Lincoln diocese, was ordained last year by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby – who has said he knew about the bishop’s sexuality.

He was in a “long term and committed” relationship, Archbishop Welby said.

Bishop Chamberlain says he obeys Church guidelines which say gay clergy must remain celibate.

The archbishop also said: “His appointment as Bishop of Grantham was made on the basis of his skills and calling to serve the church in the Diocese of Lincoln.

“He lives within the Bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office.”

‘Not secret’

A Church of England spokesman said: “Nicholas has not misled anyone and has been open and truthful if asked. The matter is not secret, although it is private as is the case with all partnerships/relationships.”

Bishop Chamberlain made the disclosure in an interview with the Guardian, and it has been reported that he gave the interview because his private life was about to be exposed by a Sunday newspaper.

“It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out,” he told the newspaper.

“People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on.”

It’s thought no serving bishop has ever before gone public about their sexuality. The former archbishop of York, Lord Hope, said in 1995 that his sexuality was a “grey area”.

The Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Jeffrey John, withdrew from the race to become Bishop of Reading in 2003 after an angry reaction from traditionalist Anglicans about his sexuality.

Bishop Chamberlain’s revelation is likely to cause further tension among Anglicans.

Last month 72 traditionalist members of the church’s ruling general synod wrote to all bishops, encouraging them to abide by biblical teaching on sexuality.

Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury said in an interview that he “couldn’t see the road ahead” when it came to sexuality.

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