Clergy back gay priest in chaplaincy job row

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Vicars in Mansfield have been offering their support to a gay priest who has been blocked from taking up a job as head chaplain at Kings Mill Hospital because of his sexuality.

Last week, Chad reported how Canon Jeremy Pemberton has been told he cannot work as a priest in Nottinghamshire after he became the first gay priest to marry after wedding long-term partner Laurence Cunnington in April.

The 58-year-old had planned to start a new role as head of chaplaincy and bereavement services at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - which runs Kings Mill, Mansfield Community Hospital and Ashfield Health Village.

Rev Canon Paul Bentley, based at St Lawrence, in Pecks Hill said: “As a chaplain Jeremy Pemberton is second to none and I find it very sad that he’s had his licence revoked - and as lead chaplain for Sherwood Forest Hospitals I have no doubt that he is perfect for the post.

“Like all of us, Jeremy is under the authority of the bishop, but it’s a huge shame that his ability, expertise and love of people is being held in abeyance because of his act of conscience.”

Meanwhile, Rev Keith Hebden, vicar at St Mark’s, in Nottingham Road, called for more tolerance within the Church of England.

He said: “St Mark’s Church in Mansfield is a signed up member of Inclusive Church, which means that we welcome people regardless of economic power, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or ethnicity as full and gifted members of the church and we look forward to a time when the wider church does the same.”

Speaking to the Chad last week, Rev Pemberton said he felt that he was being prevented from doing God’s work.

He said: “I actually feel that God is calling me to do this - I am trying to respond to that calling and I would like the bishop to help me respond to that calling.