The bishop of Grantham has become the first Church of England bishop to publically declare that he is gay and in a relationship. Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain, a suffragan in Lincoln diocese, has said he decided to reveal his sexuality after a Sunday newspaper threatened to expose his private life.
Bishop Chamberlain said he knew the revelation would cause "ripples" within the church and added that he obeys Church of England guidelines which say gay clergy must remain celibate and not marry. The Bishop was consecrated in 2015 by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby - who has said that he knew about the bishop's sexuality.
Archbishop Welby added that Bishop Chamberlain was in a "long term and committed" relationship and his sexuality was "irrelevant" to his serving in office. No serving bishop has ever before gone public before.
In an interview with the Guardian Bishop Chamberlain said: "It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out. People know I'm gay, but it's not the first thing I'd say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it's my ministry that I want to focus on."
Archbishop Welby added: "His appointment as Bishop of Grantham was made on the basis of his skills and calling to serve the Church in the Diocese of Lincoln. He lives within the Bishops' guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office."
In August this year 72 traditionalist members of the church's ruling general synod, a council which runs the church, wrote to all bishops, encouraging them to abide by biblical teaching on sexuality. Earlier in June, bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, who is associated with the Church of England's evangelical wing, called for far-reaching change in the church's attitudes to LGBT people who have been bruised and broken by the church.
A Church of England spokesman said: "Nicholas has not misled anyone and has been open and truthful if asked. The matter is not secret, although it is private as is the case with all partnerships/relationships."