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OXFORD: Evangelical Clergy call for the Resignation of Bishop of Buckingham

OXFORD: Evangelical Clergy call for the Resignation of Bishop of Buckingham
They have lost confidence in the Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson's leadership over remarks he made about marriage

By David W. Virtue DD
June 22, 2015

Two evangelical clergy in Buckingham in the diocese of Oxford have called on the Bishop of Buckingham Dr. Alan Wilson to resign saying that they have lost confidence in his leadership over his remarks defending same sex marriage.

The Bishop of Buckingham defended same-sex marriage during a recent tribunal saying the idea that marriage should be between one man and one woman is "a lousy definition". Wilson was testifying at the tribunal of Jeremy Pemberton, 58, who was blocked from promotion after he married his husband last year, and says he was unlawfully discriminated against.

Canon Pemberton, 58, formerly a hospital chaplain, was the first member of the clergy to enter into a same-sex marriage, when he wed his partner Laurence Cunnington last April. Pemberton's marriage defied a decision by the House of Bishops, which has banned gay clergy from marrying, and he later had his permission to officiate revoked. This meant he was also unable to take up another job at the NHS, as he was declined the correct licences.

The Rev. Will Pearson-Gee, rector of the Buckingham benefice said, he was deeply disappointed that Bishop Wilson persists in undermining the teaching of the Church by his overt support of those who have gone against the clear rules governing clergy discipline.

"Describing the Church's teaching and doctrine as "lousy" is quite breathtakingly arrogant and not language that one would expect from a senior leader in the Church. Were I in secular employment and so at odds with the leadership and core values of the company that employed me, I would resign forthwith as a matter of conscience."

Anglican Blogger David Ould said the Bishop of Buckingham does not have the confidence of the Rector of Buckingham. "The question to ask at this point, given the clear differences between them, is which one faithfully represents the Church of England? Is it the Rector who upholds the Scriptures and the position of the Prayer Book or is it the Bishop who consistently undermines both and speaks out against the collegiality of the bishops of the Church of England?"

"Pearson-Gee's argument is the same as what I have long called the "Pepsi argument". If the marketing director for Pepsi appeared at every press conference and in every public appearance drinking Coke and clearly preferring it then you'd acknowledge that he was entitled to prefer one cola drink over the other. But you'd also have a clear description for his assumption he could continue to draw a salary from and continue to represent his employer."

Another evangelical rector, Vaughan Roberts of St. Ebbes Oxford, one of the largest churches in the diocese, appeared on BBC Radio Oxford and said this, "In any line of work if you as a leader of that organization find yourself in a fundamental disagreement with that organization and then you publicly speak against it, the only sensible option is to resign. He must be in a very difficult position and if he finds that he doesn't now support this view on a fundamental issue (of marriage) by the organization he is called to serve and to lead -- obviously he should resign."

Also testifying, Bishop Richard Inwood of the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham said the marriage of the two men was "sinful and unwholesome".

Dr. Wilson went head to head with the lawyer for Bishop Inwood, Thomas Linden QC, saying the line "one man and one woman" was added in 1938 to Church law in order for clergy to refuse divorcees from remarrying.

He also said: "Different doctrines had different status... For example, in Article 37, it says capital punishment is OK, but that doesn't mean it's a requirement for every clergyman to agree with capital punishment."

The Bishop was asked about the Church's teaching on marriage, to which he replied: "It's not that I don't think it's true, or the canons of England should not be followed, all I say is it's a lousy definition, if it cannot tell you who is and who is not married."

Going on, he said it would be better, "rather than shacking-up with his boyfriend", for a priest to be allowed to choose to marry their same-sex partner "as a better reflection of God's love". He also added that the church had a history of "evolving" its views on a range of issues.

"If nobody ever experimented with going ahead of the rules, the rules would never change and that's the evolutionary process of the church," he said.

In his response the bishop dismissed their concerns as "potty", and moaned that people had not talked with him, but sources told VOL that concerned vicars had actually been talking with him for months and he has not been listening.

"Wilson repeatedly seeks to portray the evangelical position of Pearson-Gee and Roberts as fringe and reactionary, rather than recognizing that it is the majority historical and global position of the church...Wilson clearly charges Pearson-Gee of acting in a dishonorable way and particularly with refusing to meet with him and "not turning up" to a meeting, and then repeats the claim when asked for clarification."

The hearing finished this week but judgment is not expected until a later date.


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