Who’s who: Fr Robert Thompson
- Credit: Harry Taylor
The new vicar for St James’ and St Mary’s explains why he agrees with his predecessor that the Church of England is institutionally homophobic
After a shock resignation of its vicar in a gay marriage row last year, St James’ in West Hampstead and St Mary’s in Kilburn has appointed somebody who plans to carry on his fight: Robert Thompson started in the role at the weekend.
Fr Thompson, a councillor in Kensington and Chelsea, joins the parish just over a year since his predecessor Andrew Foreshew-Cain resigned saying the church was “institutionally homophobic”.
Speaking days before he led his first services in his new parish, he agreed with Andrew’s claim.
He said: “If you look at the statistics, we have them on age, and on BME [black and minority ethnic], but we don’t do any in terms of the LGBT representation in the church.”
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He believes the reason the issue hasn’t been tackled earlier is because of conservative elements in the Church of England.
He told the Ham&High: “For a very long period, LGBT people have been accepted in certain parts of the church. It’s an issue for those people who are more conservative. There is a place for the bishops to discuss the issue in public. They would rather deal with it behind closed doors, rather than out in the open.”
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He confirmed that he would continue to push for gay marriage to be accepted in the church. Robert himself has moved into the vicarage at West Hampstead with his long-term partner Carles.
The new vicar previously worked as a chaplain in hospices and the NHS. He was also working at St Clement’s Church, near Grenfell Tower, in the days after the fire and delivered the sermon at a service attended by London mayor Sadiq Khan less than a week after the blaze.
As a councillor he heads up the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee. “The fire has directly affected the whole community,” he said.
“We have 72 people who lost their lives, their friends, their families, and all those who have been made homeless.”