A VILLAGE vicar has resigned because he can not agree with Oxford Diocese guidance on same-sex issues.

Rev Ken Campbell, the vicar of St Laurence Church, Appleton, has surprised his congregation by quitting and he is expected to leave his role in January.

While the reverend, who is originally from Scotland, is planning to return to teaching part-time, he could also decide to ‘plant a new church’ in the Oxford area.

The vicar announced his resignation in the village newsletter.

The 53-year-old told residents living near Abingdon: “While many things in life are simply a matter of personal preference and taste, this kind of relativism does not apply to Christian doctrine.

“God himself has set controls and boundaries in place in order to keep his beloved people safe.

“Sadly this no longer seems to be the view of the bishops in our diocese.

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“Over the last 10 months I have come to the conclusion (along with 100 clergy colleagues) that our bishops are no longer fully committed to the Bible’s teaching, particularly in the realm of sexual ethics.

“In their Ad Clerum (a letter sent to all diocesan clergy and licensed lay ministers in October) the bishops signalled their departure from the historic Judaeo-Christian understanding of sexual ethics, according to which the boundaries of legitimate sexual activity are limited to monogamous heterosexual marriage.”

The Oxford Times:

Rev Campbell, the Rector of St Laurence’s, Appleton with Besselsleigh, will remain in post until Sunday, January 19.

He told The Oxford Times: “I’ll be very sad to leave the wonderful village of Appleton, and the growing and supportive church family of St Laurence.

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“But having promised to follow the teachings of Jesus I now find myself out of step with those in authority over me, and, as a matter of conscience, I’ve taken the painful decision to resign.

“Of course, I wholeheartedly agree with the bishops’ call to love, respect and welcome everyone into our churches, including people from the LGBTQI+ community - the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all.

“Not everyone in the parish gets why I have resigned, but the church family and many in the wider community have been overwhelmingly supportive of me, recognising that I’ve made a conscience-led decision.”

A spokeswoman for the diocese said it was saddened by Rev Campbell’s resignation after three years.

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She added: “He has resigned because he feels he can no longer be accountable to our bishops.

“He disagreed with a pastoral letter, sent to 1,500 clergy in October 2018, which set out our bishops’ expectations in relation to treating LGBTI+ people with respect.

The Oxford Times:

“He is the only clergy person we are aware of who has resigned as a result of the letter, entitled Clothe yourselves with love.

“Published in the context of wider debates around human sexuality in the Church of England, the letter states: ‘Therefore as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience’.

“These are the qualities we need as the church as we continue to build a common life together.”

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Since the letter was published, the diocese has started work to set up an LGBTQI+ chaplaincy.

The Oxford Times:

According to the letter, a Pastoral Advisory Group is seeking to issue new pastoral guidance within the Church of England’s current legal, doctrinal and liturgical frameworks accompanied by some new resources.

Those in the Church working on Living in Love and Faith are hoping to publish their work in a variety of resources in early 2020.

The letter added: “LGBTQI+ Christians have always been, and remain, actively involved as clergy and laity in all areas of church life, and at all levels.”

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Regarding the timing of the issuing of new pastoral guidance, the letter added: “It is clear that it will be some time before the process of discernment in the Church of England reaches a conclusion.

The Oxford Times:

“During that period we want to encourage, above all, an attitude of inclusion and respect for LGBTQI+ people across the Diocese of Oxford.”

Zayna Ratty, chair of Oxford Pride, said the diocese should provide ‘clear leadership’ as soon as possible.

She added: “Given the systematic attitude towards same-sex relationships historically, throughout organised religions, it’s no surprise that there are some members of the clergy for whom equal LGBTQI+ rights do not align with their belief systems.”

Same-sex couples are currently not allowed to marry in Church of England churches.