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Church of England Appoints Lesbian in Partnered Relationship to head Interim Director of Ministry

Church of England Appoints Lesbian in Partnered Relationship to head Interim Director of Ministry

(Photo) Rev. Ford is on the far right in a collar holding the LGBT rainbow banner

By David W. Virtue, DD
September 5, 2018

The Rev. Dr. Mandy Ford, a lesbian in a civil partnership, has been appointed to lead the Church of England's Ministry Division, according to an official press release from Church House.

Her title will be Interim Director of Ministry. It is the first such appointment of a same-sex partnered person to this position.

The Church of England's current position is that marriage is between a man and a woman, however it has also maintained the position that it supports celibate same-sex relationships including civil partnership.

During July and August, a number of Cathedrals publicly indicated support for LGBT 'Pride' festivals by flying the rainbow flag from tower flagpoles. Some theologians, bloggers and conservative church network leaders condemned the practice, pointing out that the rainbow flag is a symbol of an ideology and agenda which is profoundly hostile to historic Christian faith. Southwark Cathedral was one such cathedral.

Till now, Ford has been Canon Chancellor at Southwark Cathedral and Director of Ministerial Education for the Diocese of Southwark. Ford will take up the post later this month. She succeeds the Rev. Julian Hubbard, who departs after seven years as Director of Ministry. She has been seen at Gay Pride Parade days. This will be seen as further deepening the rift between Evangelicals and the rest of the Church of England. Evangelicals in the Diocese of Southwark were concerned when she was appointed as IME Director.

In her current role in the Diocese of Southwark, she is responsible for overseeing the training of curates, professional development of the clergy and training and discipleship for lay people.

A fellow canon at the cathedral, Canon Leanne Roberts, a lesbian in a civil partnership had her partnership celebrated in the Cathedral last July followed by dinner and dancing in the nave. That led to a meeting of incumbents with the Bishop of Southwark last December where they expressed grave concern as to whether they could have ordinands under her care.

Ford studied theology at Oxford and Nottingham. Her doctoral research focused on the biblical interpretation and ethics of the theologian and philosopher, Paul Ricoeur and she has since researched and written on topics including ministry in cities.

She takes on the post on secondment from the Diocese of Southwark.

The Rt. Rev. Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and the chair of the Church of England's Ministry Council, said: "I am thrilled that Mandy Ford will serve in this role as we move through a period of significant change and realignment of Ministry Division.

"Mandy brings experience from her work in Leicester and Southwark Dioceses that will help us build on the Division's current work to enable and encourage the highest standards and best practice in discernment and formation for the church's ordained and lay ministers.

"I am very grateful to the Bishop of Southwark for agreeing to Mandy's secondment."

Mandy said: "I am very much looking forward to working with the talented staff in Ministry Division and Church of England dioceses to build on the progress made in increasing the number of ordinands and supporting clergy in their leadership.

"I am also excited about the challenges ahead as we focus on lay people in their leadership and ministry, working in partnership with the Setting God's People Free program and sharing initiatives and good practice from around the church."

Commenting on The Rev. Canon Dr Mandy Ford's secondment, the Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, said, "Canon Mandy Ford will bring a great deal of wisdom and expertise to Ministry Division and we wish her well for her secondment. We are glad that Mandy will remain part of the Southwark team and continue some of her responsibilities in the Diocese and at the Cathedral, whilst using her gifts and abilities for the benefit of the wider Church."

The Dean of Southwark, The Very Rev. Andrew Nunn, said, "I am pleased that Mandy has been asked to bring her many skills to the role of Interim Director of Ministry at Church House and that she will be able to continue as a member of Chapter at the Cathedral. She will be in our thoughts and prayers as she takes on this secondment."

A number of orthodox commentators believe that a rainbow revolution is taking place in the Church of England, that is slowly, but significantly, undermining traditional biblical views on human sexuality, further alienating it from Global South and GAFCON primates who have steadfastly insisted on a biblical view of marriage and sexual behavior.


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