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Baptist wife wanted to lay hands on husband

03 July 2015

BETH ALLISON-GLENNY

"Upset": the Revd Beth Allison-Glenny and her husband Rob, at whose ordination service she was not allowed to lay on hands

"Upset": the Revd Beth Allison-Glenny and her husband Rob, at whose ordination service she was not allowed to lay on hands

A BAPTIST minister married to a Church of England priest has criticised the rules that prevented her from playing a significant part in his ordination service.

The Revd Beth Allison-Glenny's husband Rob was priested on Sunday, in the diocese of Oxford. But, because canon law prohibits it, she was unable to be among the supporting priests who laid on hands while Mr Glenny was ordained.

"He is deeply upset by it," she said before the service. "I want to ask 'What is it you think is stopping me being a part of it?' His mother is ordained and can lay a hand on him, but I can't."

Binding their two traditions together had always been a priority, Mrs Allison-Glenny said. The couple used an ecumenical marriage service, and, during her own ordination, Mr Glenny was among those who laid on hands.

"Our own denominational identity has been so much a part of our own life, and neither of us have felt we could move to become a minister in the other Church," Mrs Allison-Glenny said.

Speaking after the service, Mr Glenny conceded that the diocese was not able to make any changes but said the issue should be addressed in the future.

A spokeswoman for the diocese of Oxford said that they did try to include Mrs Allison-Glenny in the ordination service. "[She] was robed and accepted our invitation to read the Litany at the priesting service on Sunday. Just before Rob was ordained, Beth kissed her husband as a sign of blessing."

While grateful for the "gesture", Mr Glenny said it did not address the real problem. "My joyfulness at being priested had no bearing on who read the litany. I was pleased to be able to celebrate that day, and I was saddened it couldn't be with Beth laying on hands. What's unhelpful is not having a clear theology explaining what the priests are doing at the laying on of hands."

Mrs Allison-Glenny said: "It's surely God who ordains? That's what I found flummoxing. Are we somehow saying that the Baptists would stop that from happening? I can't believe that would be the theology of the C of E.

"You can say how ecumenically minded you are, but if you have written into the rules things that stop ecumenical clergy from being able to participate . . . it is saying one thing and doing another."

The couple now want the issue to be debated by the Synod. But a C of E spokeswoman said: "Note 12 of the ordination service states that priests share with the bishop in laying hands on the heads of those ordained to the presbyterate. They do so at the invitation of the bishop, who determines where they stand, and by what gesture they indicate they are joining in prayer with him.

"The Baptist Churches have a different understanding of ordained ministry from the Church of England and their ministers are not ordained as priests in the historic threefold ministry. . . It is only priests who join with the bishop in the laying on of hands."

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