Gay vicar appointed as cathedral Dean

Last updated at 08:53 02 July 2004

Gay clergyman Dr Jeffrey John is preparing to be installed today as the new Dean of St Albans amid protests from conservatives within the Church of England.

About 2,000 people are expected to pack the cathedral this afternoon for the service in which he will formally become rector of the parish of St Albans Abbey and Dean of St Albans Cathedral.

Dr John will be led to his "stall" or seat in the cathedral by the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Christopher Herbert, to mark his new position as dean of the cathedral.

The lay and clergy members of the chapter of the cathedral will also join together to present Dr John with the dean's red velvet embroidered cope.

The cathedral was built on the site of the martyrdom of St Alban in the third century and Dr John is to pray at the shrine of the saint before leaving the church in procession at the end of the ceremony.

Dr John, 51, who is gay but celibate, was forced to withdraw his acceptance of the post of suffragan Bishop of Reading last summer after a bitter row over gay priests within the church.

His new appointment, among the most senior posts in the Church of England, was announced by Downing Street earlier this year.


St Albans Cathedral chapter has already said it welcomes Dr John's appointment as the new dean and has said he has the support of the "vast" majority of the congregation.

But there have been protests from a group of around 40 evangelical clergy and laity in the diocese who have expressed their "dismay" over his appointment.

Two parishes in the diocese - St Peter and St Paul's Church in Cranfield, near Bedford, and Holy Trinity Church, in New Barnet, north London, have pledged to withhold thousands of pounds from diocese funds in protest.

Inclusivechurch, the pro-gay rights group within the Church of England, said it welcomed Dr John's appointment.

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