On Monday, the Church of England announced it had promoted Dr. Mandy Ford, canon chancellor at London’s Southwark Cathedral, to the position of “Interim Director of Ministry.” Ford is a lesbian in a same-sex partnership, and a photo posted by Southwark Cathedral shows her protesting in an LGBT “pride” march. In November, she will publish her book “God, Gender, Sex, and Marriage,” which has been hailed by transgender activists.
The Church of England officially supports traditional marriage between one man and one woman. PJ Media reached out to the Church of England for a statement, wondering if Ford’s promotion signals a change in the institution’s views about marriage and sexuality. The church dodged the issue.
“Cathedral chapters in the Church of England are free to participate in public events as they see fit,” a spokesman told PJ Media. “We are delighted that Dr. Ford is taking on the role of Interim Director of Ministry.”
Raised in Hong Kong, Mandy Ford moved to London as an art student, later becoming a primary school teacher. She was ordained a deacon in 2000 and ordained a priest in 2001. She studied theology at Oxford and Nottingham. After serving in various positions, she was appointed the canon chancellor and director of ministerial education at Southwark in 2014.
In her current role, she oversees the training of curates, professional development of the clergy, and training and discipleship for lay people. Her role as interim director of ministry essentially extends this to the entire country.
In June, Southwark Cathedral posted a photo of Rev. Ford with other priests and ministers holding a rainbow flag with the message, “Southwark Cathedral: Inclusive, Faithful, Radical.”
“Following the success of our participation in last year’s London Pride Parade, we will be marching with our Cathedral banner this year, too,” the cathedral announced. The church even produced wristbands for the event, and declared that the church’s participation in the parade marked “a clear witness to our mission statement of inclusiveness which many found moving and memorable.”
Gavin Ashenden, a missionary bishop to England who rejected his ordination in the Church of England (and his position as honorary chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II) but kept his connection with the global Anglican Church, wondered “what signal [Ford’s] appointment sends” in remarks to PJ Media.
Ashenden noted that Archbishop of Canterbury “Justin Welby has done all he could to calm the remaining orthodox and traditional clergy by saying that he saw no likelihood of any change in law or liturgy from the Church’s present position on marriage.”
Rev. Ford’s promotion revealed that this position “was not telling the whole story,” Ashenden insisted. “Behind Welby’s public stance was a different set of values that he was slowly but surely implementing. So, when looking for a new Director of the Church’s ministry, he has overseen the appointment of a prominent LGBT activist and gay pride proponent, herself in a civil partnership, about to publish a book next month welcomed by the trans community for supporting the kind of inclusion they are agitating for.”
The Church of England “could hardly have found a way to send a clearer signal” that it would hire and promote LGBT activists, Ashenden told PJ Media. Under Rev. Mandy Ford, the church will hire people who will “bring their best energies to bear to change the church’s culture away from the traditional and biblical view of sexuality and marriage, to embrace the secular and progressive agenda.”
“Some people will see this as skillful political gamesmanship; other people will see it as hypocrisy. But whatever you call it, Dr. Ford’s appointment acts as a signal that the old Church of England is passing away, and the new one places LGBT/trans rights and expectations a long way higher than recognition and the practice of faithful biblical ethics,” Ashenden declared.
Various cathedrals across the UK have publicly embraced LGBT activism, from marching in “Pride” parades to hoisting rainbow flags above their sanctuaries.
Last month, Ashenden denounced the “flying of a gay pride flag above a cathedral” as “a blasphemy.” He cited Romans 1, noting that “distorted sexual identity and practice is diagnosed by St. Paul as a symptom of idolatry. He warns that the more a society turns its back on the living God, the more people experience dis-ease and disintegration. This expresses itself partially in a confusion of sexual identity and equally by an absence of continence.”
Matthew Firth, pastor of the Anglican churches St. Cuthbert’s and Holy Trinity, Darlington, also attacked cathedrals for flying LGBT “Pride” flags. “Given that Pride teaches things which are in direct contravention of what the Bible and [the Book of Common Prayer] teach, how is it justifiable for an Anglican cathedral to fly their flag?” Firth asked in a Facebook comment.
Pride itself is fundamentally alien to the humility of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2), and it seems particularly noxious for Christian cathedrals to hail LGBT parades as celebrations of “Pride.”
Responding to the “rainbow revolution” across the UK, anonymous Anglicans adopted the spirit of Reformation leader Martin Luther, nailing a protest document to the doors of five cathedrals throughout Britain. The protest came around the 500th anniversary of Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg church door, an event that began the Protestant Reformation.
Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England, has admitted to “copping out” when asked directly about the church’s position on same-sex sexual activity. While he seems hesitant to change the church’s doctrine directly, his leadership has promoted a lesbian and LGBT activist whose new book will further promote the “rainbow revolution.”
The Church of England may not have addressed these issues in its statement to PJ Media, but its hiring decisions put conservative Anglicans in the UK on notice: there will be no place for traditional Christian doctrine on sexuality in the Church of England.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.