AN ANGLICAN minister in Northwich has spoken out on a controversial issue which threatens to tear the Church apart.
The Rev Andy Greenhough, assistant minister at St Wilfrid's Church in Davenham, has added his comments over the appointment of an openly-gay bishop in America.
While the man in question, Gene Robinson, has said the crisis over his ordination as Bishop of New Hampshire is 'nothing to be afraid of', Church leaders from around the world do not agree.
Anglican heads in Asia, Africa and Latin America are threatening to break relations with the American branch of the Church, and the shockwaves are also reaching the local parishes - the Bishop of Chester was questioned by police over comments he made in our sister paper, the Chester Chronicle, on Friday.
The Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster suggested that gay people should seek medical help. He said: 'Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option, but I would not set myself up as a medical specialist on the subject - that's in the area of psychiatric health.'
Cheshire Constabulary received a complaint from a member of the public but after interviwing father-of-four Dr Foster and consulting the Crown Prosecutuion Service, was 'satisfied no criminal offences have been committed as current public order legislation does not provide specific offences based on sexuality'.
Mr Greenhough, whose Davenham parish is covered by the bishop, has given his views on the gay issue in the November edition of the parish magazine. The primary concern for him in condemning the appointment is, like the Bishop of Chester's stance, concerned with the sanctity of marriage.
He writes: 'In the Bible, God has commended to us a life which is good and pleasing to him. Part of that good and pleasing life is the right directing of sexual expression only within heterosexual marriage.
'Surely God's church cannot be at liberty to count as 'good' that which God has said is not pleasing to him, and therefore sinful! Yet in New Hampshire they are trying to do just that by electing as bishop one whose life and teaching are contrary to the Bible's teaching.
'Surely we would not accept a man as bishop whose particular vice was stealing, who declared he did not consider it sinful, and who advocated stealing as perfectly consistent with a godly Christian lifestyle.
'Or what would you think if the next rector of Davenham both engaged in and encouraged extra-marital affairs, teaching that such relationships were not acceptable?
'It is this rejection of God's Word that is the cause of the potential split in the Church. The media of course will hijack the whole thing as being anti-gay.
'This is not about homophobia. Anyone who thinks he has reason to hate ought to remember the words of Jesus 'let him who has no sin cast the first stone'.'
Winsford minister the Rev Tim Hanson has echoed these sentiments to the parishioners at Christ Church in Wharton.
He said: 'The Church in the USA is bowing to cultural pressure rather than challenging it.'