AN NHS Trust has withdrawn its offer of an appointment to an
Anglican chaplain, after his bishop refused to grant him a licence
on the grounds that he had defied the House of Bishops' pastoral
guidance by marrying his same-sex partner.
The priest, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, is Deputy Senior Chaplain
and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager in the United
Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He married Laurence Cunnington in
April (News, 17 April), and the
Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Richard
Inwood, then withdrew his permission to officiate (News, 27
On 10 June, Canon Pemberton was offered a new job as Head of
Chaplaincy and Bereavement Services in the Sherwood Forest
Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This was conditional on the Bishop
of Southwell & Nottingham's issuing him with a licence.
On Tuesday, Karen Fisher, executive director of human resources
at the Trust, said: "This licence was not granted and regrettably
the Trust has withdrawn the offer of employment. We wish Jeremy all
the very best for the future."
Last month, Bishop Inwood said that he was unable to grant the
licence "in light of the pastoral guidance, and for reasons of
On Monday, Canon Pemberton said: "I am not accepting this, and I
am not going to go away quietly. This needs to be looked at in a
formal context and tested."
It was, he said, "very evident that there is a gaping chasm
between where the country is, and where the Church of England is. .
. It seems odd to me, from an NHS point of view, that what is a
matter of my private choice should become an insuperable
stumbling-block to employment."
It is not a legal requirement that Anglican chaplains have a
licence from a bishop, but they are required to be "in good
standing" with their faith community. For Anglicans, the licence is
an external validation of this. Canon Pemberton suggested that it
might be appropriate to establish a national registration process
On Monday, Mr Cunnington expressed concern that other gay
chaplains in the NHS might be afraid to convert their civil
partnerships into marriages because of the precedent set by Bishop
"The danger is that, even if all these chaplains keep their
current jobs, the whole system grinds to a halt," he said. "People
are not able to move careers or develop specialisms, as well as the
personal impactof people fearing to get married at all."
On Tuesday, the Revd Mark Burleigh, President of the College of
Health Care Chaplains, which is part of the trade union Unite,
said: "I am saddened by the effect that this decision is having on
Jeremy's personal circumstances and his hopes to move to a more
senior health-care-chaplaincy role closer to his home.
"The College of Health Care Chaplains will support Jeremy and
any of our members who find themselves in related situations. Where
appropriate, this would include legal representation through