A Church of England bishop has come out as gay and in a relationship with a long term partner.
The sexuality of Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham, has been known for some time within the Church.
But he revealed his identity on his own terms after a Sunday newspaper planned to identify him.
“It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out,” Bishop Chamberlain told the Guardian.
He continued: “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.”
Bishop Chamberlain also said the people involved in his consecration in November 2015 “knew about my sexual identity.”
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church, issued a statement to the newspaper in support of the bishop.
He said: “I am and have been fully aware of Bishop Nick’s long-term, committed relationship. 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.”
Bishop Chamberlain was appointed to his position by bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson. Bishop Lowson also voiced his support for the clergyman in letters to his parishes.
“I am satisfied now, as I was at the time of his appointment, that Bishop Nicholas fully understands, and lives by, the House of Bishops’ guidance on issues in human sexuality,” Bishop Lowson wrote.
“For me, and for those who assisted in his appointment, the fact that Bishop Nicholas is gay is not, and has never been, a determining factor.”
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.”
Despite having a partner, Bishop Chamberlain maintained his relationship was celibate, as per Church rules.
There has been lingering division in the Church of England about the place of gay clergy members. While some of the leadership has in recent years advocated a tolerant approach, other more traditionalist bishops have called for a more literal biblical view on homosexuality.