THE chairman of Forward in Faith (FiF), the Bishop of Fulham,
the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, who is divorced, is to marry again.
In a letter to his clergy, dated 22 October, Bishop Baker said
that he had been given permission to remarry by the Bishop of
London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, and the Archbishop of
Canterbury. A civil ceremony will take place in the spring,
followed by a mass celebrated by Bishop Chartres, with prayers of
dedication and thanksgiving, at the Guild Church of St
Dunstan-in-the-West, where Bishop Baker is Guild Vicar.
He wrote: "I hope very much that you will understand that I have
only reached this decision after a great deal of thought and
prayer. I believe honestly that this is the best way of ordering my
life, and will provide a strong and stable future for me by the
grace of God. . .
"I hope that those of you who exercise your right not to conduct
further marriages in church can be reassured that that is a
position I fully respect and understand, and that I will support
you in continuing to adopt such a policy - and would defend and
explain it to anyone who came to me for advice."
Bishop Baker confirmed in the letter that he had had discussions
with the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, which was created to
care for those who will continue to seek special provision after
women are admitted to the episcopate.
On Monday, a statement from the Society's Council of Bishops, of
which Bishop Baker is a member, said: "None of the bishops of the
Society underestimates the searing grief that accompanies the
breakdown of a marriage: many of us have shared this grief within
our own families.
"The news that, following divorce, Bishop Jonathan Baker is to
marry in a civil ceremony, followed by a service of thanksgiving
and dedication in church, should draw the assurance of prayers from
everyone, including from those who will be bewildered and unsettled
"The bishops of the Society reaffirm their commitment both to
the Church's teaching on Christian marriage as a sacramental sign,
and to the need for pastoral sensitivity and care, both for those
who are married and for those whose marriages fail."
On Tuesday, Bishop Baker confirmed that, after serving a
four-year term as chairman of Forward in Faith in November, he
would not seek re-election. He had informed the FiF Council of this
on 9 October, before notifying his clergy of his intention to