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We support our gay clergyman'

PUBLISHED: 12:27 04 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:17 25 August 2010

NOMINATION: Dr Jeffrey John says he is in a gay relationship and celibate.

NOMINATION: Dr Jeffrey John says he is in a gay relationship and celibate.

VICARS have rallied in support of a gay clergyman whose nomination to become Bishop of Bangor is the latest event to ignite tensions in the Anglican church.

VICARS have rallied in support of a gay clergyman whose nomination to become Bishop of Bangor is the latest event to ignite tensions in the Anglican church.

Former Eltham preacher Dr Jeffrey John, who entered into a civil partnership with another priest two years ago, is to be nominated for ordination as a Bishop next week.

The Dean of St Albans, who was for six years the vicar of Holy Trinity in Southend Crescent, Eltham, became the focus of a conservative backlash five years ago when he was nominated as Bishop of Reading.

However, Reverend Brett Ward of the Holy Trinity where Dr John preached from 1991 to 1998, said his sexuality was not an issue for his congregation.

He said: "He was regarded with enormous affection and admiration and respect by everyone in the congregation here.

"Many people were drawn into the life of the church too through his care and excellent preaching and teaching."

Following pressure from Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Dr John stood down after he was nominated as Bishop of Reading in the Oxford diocese in 2003. Now Dr Rowan would be unable to do the same as his authority does not extend beyond England.

Church of England guidelines state that gay clergy have to be celibate, something which Dr John claims to be.

Reverend Ward said added: "He is not breaking any Church of England guidelines as he is celibate in a gay relationship.

"I think he would make an outstanding Bishop.

"His opinions on gay relationships are not different from many heterosexual bishops."

The expected nomination comes after the former Bishop of Bangor, the Right Reverend Anthony Crockett, died of cancer in June.

Members of the college of Bangor are expected to meet for preliminary discussions next week, with the final election to be held next month, at a confidential three-day event at the cathedral in Bangor.

Dr John was put forward as the Bishop of Monmouth four years ago, but did not get enough votes.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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