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Lay Reader suspended for supporting Coalition for Marriage

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An Anglican Lay Reader with fifty years of experience has been suspended for backing the Coalition for Marriage campaign, of which Christian Concern is a core member.  The campaign seeks to preserve the current legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

All Saints Church in Sanderstead decided to suspend Peter Gowlland (aged 78) for a period of two months after he suggested that congregation members should sign the Coalition for Marriage petition to stop Prime Minister David Cameron from re-defining marriage to include same-sex couples.


The decision was made by the acting Archdeacon of Croydon, Rev’d Dr Barry Goodwin, after a minority of attendees in favour of same-sex marriage complained that they disagreed with the stance taken by Mr Gowlland, who introduced the petition whilst reading notices in a service led by another Lay Reader, Mary Duncan. 

It is reported that Ms Duncan immediately discouraged the congregation from signing the petition, stating: “Do not sign it without giving it very careful thought. There are other views.” 

Eight days later, Mr Gowlland was informed that he would not be permitted to preach and lead worship for two months because he had “bounced” the petition on listeners “without prior discussion” and because “there is a potential for division in All Saints.”


Last week, secular campaigners launched an attack on the Roman Catholic Church for urging its secondary schools to sign the Coalition for Marriage petition, arguing that the move amounted to “political indoctrination” and encouraged pupils “into bigotry.”

Christian bus driver, Arthur McGeorge is currently facing disciplinary action for circulating the same petition at work during his lunch break.


Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, commented:

“Time and time again the church has conformed to the secular agenda on the issue of marriage.  

“Marriage is intended by God to be a union of one man and one woman only.  A nation that fails to acknowledge this truth strikes at its own heart.

"Christ has called the Church to disciple the nations. Yet the Church has failed to defend marriage, instead cowering to pressure from secular groups seeking to undermine the influence of Christianity in all areas of public life.

“Marriage is under attack in a way that was unimaginable just fifty years ago.  It is high time for Church to begin to lead and take a firm stand on this issue for the good of society.

Act now

At Christian Concern we are calling on each and every one of our supporters to submit a response to the Government consultation on redefining marriage.

In order to make it easy we have prepared an online form that submits the answers directly to the Government for you. Each question has a pre-prepared answer that you can amend. The process will only take around 5 minutes. 

Respond Here >

Please also sign the Coalition for Marriage petition here >

World Congress of Families

We are also inviting our supporters to join us at the World Congress of Families conference on 23 May 2012, where experts from different spheres of public life will consider how an integrated, compelling case for authentic marriage can be constructed and communicated in the current climate.

To book your place, please click here.


Archbishop Cranmer Blog


Christian Concern: Religious Freedom