Gay Canon Denied License

By John Martin

Another case has arisen of a Church of England minister being refused permission to officiate after converting his civil partnership to marriage. The Rev. Canon Jeremy Davies, a retired residentiary canon in the Diocese of Salisbury, applied for permission in the Diocese of Winchester. The Rt. Rev. Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, declined the request.

“Due to the Church of England’s position on same-sex marriage, as set out in the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance, Canon Jeremy Davies has been informed that his application has been unsuccessful,” a diocesan statement said.

Davies, ordained in 1971, was Salisbury Cathedral’s canon precentor for 26 years until he retired in 2011. He retains permission to officiate from Salisbury, granted in 2011. Davies married Simon McEnery, his partner of 30 years, on Dec. 18, 2014, when the United Kingdom’s same-sex marriage law came into force.

Davies has presided at six services in Winchester Cathedral, and several times in nearby Bournemouth. He said the the Rt. Rev. Nick Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, sent Bishop Dakin a “positive letter of commendation.”

Bishop Dakin is former general secretary of the Church Mission Society. Brought up in East Africa, he ensured that the society’s policies on sexuality enabled it to keep a working relationship with African dioceses.

The case echoes that of Jeremy Pemberton, who lost his claim of discrimination at an employment tribunal in November. Pemberton had been refused permission to officiate in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

This seems to be the pattern emerging in the Church of England. Clergy marrying a same-sex partner received a reprimand from their diocesan bishop (as happened with Pemberton and the Rev Andrew Foreshaw-Cain in London) but if they wish to move to another diocese it may not prove easy.

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