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Jeffrey Philip Hywel John, SCP, (born 10 February 1953) is a Church of England cleric and the current Dean of St Albansmarker. He made headlines in 2003 when he was the first person to have openly been in a gay relationship to be nominated as a Church of England bishop. Owing to the consequent controversy he was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to stand down before he took up the bishopric.

Life

Dr John was born in Tonyrefailmarker in South Wales in 1953. He studied at Hertford College, Oxfordmarker, where he gained a first in classics and modern languages in 1975. He subsequently studied theology at St Stephen's House, Oxfordmarker and obtained second class honours. After a curacy in Penarth, Llandaff, he returned to Oxford in 1980 to read for a doctorate in Paul theology. He became chaplain at Brasenose Collegemarker. In 1984 he was appointed Dean of Divinity at Magdalen Collegemarker, Oxford. He was later the Vicar of Holy Trinity, Elthammarker, (in the Diocese of Southwarkmarker) in south London from 1991. In 1997 he became canon chancellor and theologian of Southwark Cathedralmarker.

Dr John is a founder member and a trustee of Affirming Catholicism, a group formed in 1990 promoting catholicism within the Anglican tradition and also supported the campaign for the ordination of women.

On 20 May 2003 his appointment as the new Bishop of Reading, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Oxfordmarker, was announced. His nomination led to controversy both in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion, despite his having stated that he was celibate. He has for many years been a campaigner for gay rights and he received criticism on his nomination both for his stance on gay issues and because he had not publicly 'repented' his past sexual activities in such a way as to indicate that they were wrong. A number of Anglican leaders in various countries stated their intention to split from the communion if the consecration went ahead. Concerns over the potential for division led the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, to request Dr John to step down. On 6 July 2003, he withdrew from his appointment to the bishopric. In spite of the withdrawal of Dr John the differences in views of homosexuality within the Anglican church continued to cause controversy in 2003 following the appointment of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church USA.

On 19 April 2004, 10 Downing Streetmarker announced Dr John's appointment as Dean of St Albansmarker. He was inducted on 2 July 2004. In August 2006, Dr John entered into a civil partnership with his long-term partner, the Revd Grant Holmes.

Following a talk broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in Holy Week 2007, he was criticised by some Evangelical bishops, the Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Willesden and the Bishop of Lewes, for denying the doctrine of penal atonement. Referring to this particular explanation of the Christ's crucifixion, Dr John said, "It was worse than illogical, it was insane. It made God sound like a psychopath." In explaining his own view, he said, "On the cross Jesus dies for our sins; the price of our sin is paid; but it is not paid to God but by God". He cited Julian of Norwich, a widely admired 14th century English mystic who asserted that "there is no wrath in God".

At the end of August 2008, speculation began that Dr John was one of the nominees for the post of Bishop of Bangor in Wales. An outspoken suffragan bishop, David Anderson, [65038] of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America wrote in a public email, "With regard to 'moratoria' on electing/consecrating any new homosexual bishops in the Anglican Communion, the next chance of such an election isn't in North America. We have become aware through reliable sources that Dr. Barry Morgan is a man of his word - he previously has said, 'I (Barry Morgan) would ordain Britain's first gay Bishop.' Wales is in an election process for Bishop of Bangor and the election has as one of its still-secret nominees none other than Jeffrey John, sometime bishop designee for Reading, who had to withdraw when the appointment created an uproar." In the event, another person, the Venerable Andrew John (no relation to Dr John), was elected on 9 October 2008."

Writings

  • The Meaning in the Miracles (Canterbury Press, November 2001); ISBN 1853114340
  • The Ministry of Deliverance (Affirming Catholicism) (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, February 1997); ISBN 0232522227
  • Marriage, Divorce and the Church (Affirming Catholicism) (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, February 1997); ISBN 0232522243
  • Living the Mystery: Affirming Catholicism and the Future of the Church (as editor) (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, April 1994); ISBN 0232520712
  • Permanent, Faithful, Stable: Christian Same-Sex Partnerships (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, January 1994); ISBN 0232520755
  • Living Tradition: Affirming Catholicism in the Anglican Church (Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, January 1992); ISBN 0232519811


References

  1. Dean celebrates same-sex union from the Herts Advertiser



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