Couple quit over gay church post row

AN OPENLY gay couple who tend the grass at a Suffolk church have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury to resign their positions in protest over the treatment of Canon Jeffery John.

A OPENLY gay couple who tend the grass at a Suffolk church have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury to resign their positions in protest over the treatment of Canon Jeffery John.

Nigel Hughes and Richard Edmunds were volunteer grass cutters at All Saints Parish Church in Lawshall, near Bury St Edmunds.

But after hearing that Canon John, who is also openly gay, had decided to withdraw his acceptance of the Bishop of Reading post, the couple decided to make their feelings known.

Canon John's decision followed weeks of controversy and infighting in the Church of England, with senior clerics warning that the Anglican church could break up if a gay priest was appointed.

Mr Hughes penned the letter to Dr Rowan Williams in a bid to show the strength of their feelings about the way in which the church handled the matter.

It read: "I have been watching the debate over your appointment of Canon Jeffery John with interest.

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"I am very sorry to inform you that my partner Richard Edmunds and I feel it is necessary to resign from our positions as volunteer grass cutters for All Saints Parish Church in Lawshall, Suffolk.

"Given the present circumstances of the forced resignation of Canon John because of his, albeit, celibate homosexual relationship with his partner of 27 years, we felt that you would certainly not approve of an active homosexual couple tending to the environment of your beloved souls in the parish church graveyard.

"Our resignation will of course put some extra strain on the existing grass cutting team. I therefore cordially invite you to fill our slot of grass cutting, which will be in the final two weeks of September."

The row over the appointment of Canon John saw a number of prominent bishops, including the Rt Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, write a joint letter to air their protests about it.

The Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis,

attacked the backlash against Canon John.

He said: "It is a very sad day for the Church of England when possibly one of the most democratically appointed bishops has to withdraw because of the pressure applied by a minority of people."

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