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Clergyman who 'married' same-sex partner granted employment tribunal appeal

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A Church of England clergyman, who lost an employment tribunal case he brought against the Church, has won the right to appeal the decision.

Last year an employment tribunal ruled that the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham was free to refuse to license Canon Jeremy Pemberton after he defied the Church of England's teaching on marriage.

Contrary to Church teaching

Mr Pemberton, an NHS chaplain in Lincolnshire, was told he could not work as a priest in Nottinghamshire following his 'marriage' to Laurence Cunnington in April 2014, just two months after the House of Bishops issued a statement addressed to the "clergy and the people of the Church of England” upholding the Church's biblical teaching on marriage.

"We are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged", the statement read.

However, Mr Pemberton has called on the leadership of the church to re-examine the decision by the Acting Bishop for Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood. The Acting Bishop refused to issue a licence which would have allowed Mr Pemberton to take up a new job in Nottingham.

Mr Pemberton told the BBC he was "very, very disappointed" not to be able to take up the post of chaplaincy and bereavement manager for Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He said he felt he had been treated harshly and inconsistently, because he had a licence to do his current job from the Bishop of Lincoln.

'No Doubt'

He took his case to an employment tribunal in November claiming discrimination; the tribunal ruled in favour of the Church of England.

There is "no doubt whatsoever that the present doctrine of the church is clear", the tribunal said. 


The appeal is expected to happen later this year. Speaking to the BBC Mr Pemberton said: "It's important to appeal because this is a test case and test cases need testing. The judgement given in the tribunal had some things my lawyers felt needed further testing."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, notes: "Sadly Canon Jeremy Pemberton continues to live in a provocative manner with a flagrant disobedience of Scripture.

"The Bible is clear that all sexual expression outside of marriage between one man and one woman is sinful."

Marriage discernment

In a comment piece for Christian Concern, Wilberforce Director Dr Joe Boot provides an in-depth analysis of last month's letter from the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, which centred around the need for 'unity'. Joe emphasises that while some continue to reject the teaching of God's Word, true unity can never be achieved.

"The Church's calling, for Welby, is to be a symbol of unity, but such a symbolism is empty without a clear understanding of what Christians are unified in and around," he states.

Related Links:
Church free to enforce marriage teaching 
Clergyman who 'married' same-sex partner barred from taking services   
House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage (Church of England)
Defiant same-sex 'marriage' vicar elected to church's parliament 
Clergyman who 'married' same-sex partner barred from taking services 
Spiritually discerning the redefinition of marriage



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