Speaking of his concerns for the future of the Church, Reverend Coles said, “As more and more parishes slide into non-viability, the problem for me is that the least viable are the ones I love. most.
“The Church of England that I love is a church of liberal sympathies, broad inclusion, beautiful worship, wise preaching, dog friendly with Fairtrade biscuits, and when it comes to orthodoxy, its members would rather not be Goneril or Regan, proclaiming their zealous devotion, but Cordelia, confessing her love.
“Churches that are viable—by which I mean growing in numbers and income—tend to be conservative, impactful, fundamental in scripture, rigorous in doctrine, and about as likely to offer vespers choirs as I. the 400m hurdles.
“Some of my friends, and many faithful Christians, are at home in churches like these. But if the future Church of England looks exclusively like that, I can’t see myself there. […] because these are places where homosexuals are not welcome, and that excludes me.
Reverend Coles added that it’s ‘not just me’, saying: ‘Over the past few months I have received an increasing number of requests from same-sex couples who are dismayed to find that their relationships are not eligible for a blessing, or asking for assurance that their children in church schools will not feel uncomfortable having two fathers or two mothers.
“The first one I’m not allowed to do [the Church of England does not recognise same-sex marriages]; I am unable to do so, I am sorry to say. Things are changing, we are told; play the long game, and I have. But now I see the change moving more towards exclusion than inclusion.
“Such churches protest that all are welcome, assert on their websites and notice boards, but that welcome would be on their terms, shaped by a conservative reading of Scripture, and demand that I and others not only renounce the intimate life for which we are made, but also to accept second-class citizenship in the house of God.
“It bothers me not just because who wouldn’t, but because I just don’t and can’t believe that relationships open to grace, holiness, and healing can possibly be against the will. of God.”
He continued: “Same-sex relationships are all of these things and more, like everyone else’s; a fact so obvious that it cannot be denied, and therefore the sin is to accept anything less than equal inclusion.
“I appreciate that reconciling my views with traditional Church teaching on sexuality is problematic, to say the least. But nowhere does Jesus indicate that loving and serving the Gospel is properly done.
“What I will miss least, once retired, is to claim that it is legitimate to delay or deny justice in the matter. That and the photocopying.
Reverend Coles has previously said he plans to spend his retirement volunteering with prisoners following the death of his partner from alcoholism.
The Church of England has been contacted for comment.