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Future uncertain for West Hampstead priest who defied church to marry gay partner

10:50 25 June 2014

Fr Andrew Foreshew-Cain with husband Stephen

Fr Andrew Foreshew-Cain with husband Stephen

Archant

The future of a West Hampstead priest has been left hanging in the balance after he defiantly ignored edicts sent down by his own church leaders by marrying his gay partner of 14 years.

Father Andrew Foreshew-Cain became the second gay priest in the country to marry under the new same-sex marriage laws since they were enacted back in March.

While describing the service on Saturday with atheist partner Steven Foreshew-Cain as “perfect and incredibly moving”, the vicar of St James’, in Sheriff Road, West Hampstead, and St Mary’s with All Souls, Kilburn, says he has now been left uncertain as to whether he will be allowed to continue serving his parish.

His marriage took place the same weekend the first gay priest to marry – Canon Jeremy Pemberton – was stripped of permission to work as a priest in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, as church officials insisted clergy must “model the church’s teaching”.

Fr Andrew branded the punitive action “shameful, foolish and wrong”, telling the Ham&High: “It’s very sad what they’ve done to Jeremy.

“It leaves me waiting to see what action my own bishop will take.

“My situation is a little different – I’m a freehold incumbent which in theory makes it harder for me to be removed from my post.

“But given what has come out of the House of Bishops condemning same-sex marriage, my bishop will have to take some sort of action – and I fully expect him to.

“I just don’t know what that will be. What else can I do but wait and see?

“In the end I just hope he sees my marriage as we do – as an act of love and as a promise in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer.

“Stephen’s made an honest man out of me, and I’ve made an honest man out of him – the church should be celebrating marriages like these.”

The controversial new laws have caused a rift within the Church of England, an institution exempted from having to carry out same-sex marriage ceremonies.

The day after Fr Andrew announced his engagement to his atheist partner, a statement was released from the House of Bishops that laid out in no uncertain terms the church’s belief that marriage could only mean “a lifelong union between one man and one woman”.

Fr Andrew revealed he had already sought legal advice should he face being pushed from his post and appears to have the backing of many in his congregation.

Hundreds of parishioners are expected to attend a tea party he has organised to celebrate his marriage next weekend.

Bishops high up in the church have so far refused to comment on whether Fr Andrew’s place as a vicar in West Hampstead remains secure.

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