Bishop of Grantham reveals he is gay a year after his appointment was announced in the town

The Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Chamberlain pictured on the day he was unveiled as the new Bishop of Grantham.

The Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Chamberlain pictured on the day he was unveiled as the new Bishop of Grantham.

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The Bishop of Grantham has revealed he is gay after a Sunday newspaper was reported to have threatened to publish a story about his sexuality.

The Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Chamberlain says he is gay and in a long-term relationship. It is thought this is the first time that a serving bishop in the Church of England has revealed he is gay.

The bishop told the Guardian: “People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on.”

The Rt Rev Dr Chamberlain said the church was aware of his “sexual identity” when he was appointed bishop in November.

Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said Dr Chamberlain was appointed Bishop of Grantham on “the basis of his skills and calling to serve the church in the diocese of Lincoln”.

“He lives within the bishops’ guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office,” he added.

The Rt Rev Dr Chamberlain’s announcement has been welcomed by the Stonewall campaign group, which commended his “great courage in talking openly about his same-sex relationship”.

A Church of England spokesman said: “The Church has said for some time that it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics or other areas of personal life and discipline. “Whilst Bishop Nick’s appointment is notable in the gifts and talents that he brings to the episcopate, it is wholly consistent and unexceptional in other regards given the testing of that call by those responsible for the selection process in each case.”

The Rt Revd Dr Chamberlain was revealed as the new Bishop of Grantham in September last year when he met local dinitaries at Little Gonerby Infant School in Grantham.

He became the 12th suffragan Bishop of Grantham after being vicar of the parish of St George and St Hilda, Jesmond, in the Diocese of Newcastle, for nine years.

On taking up the role, he told the Journal: “I am extremely excited and just a little bit nervous. I think it is most important to get to know people first and to meet the clergy, the congregations and the wider community.

“I am entirely new to Lincolnshire and until I have got to know people it is too early to come along with preconceived ideas. There is a reason for being in this school today. It’s one of the ways the church works within the community. Education is hugely important in the community and this job is about the whole of the community.”