When the Christian Union at the University of Derby organised their carol service, to be held in the city’s cathedral, they invited Rev Melvin Tinker, vicar of St John Newland in Hull, to be the preacher.
It transpires, however, that the CU was not empowered to invited Rev Tinker to speak. Such invitations have to be made by the Dean, the Very Revd Stephen Hance. The Dean said: “I am aware of online comments this morning claiming that Derby Cathedral has banned the Revd Melvin Tinker from speaking at the Derby University Christian Union Carol Service.”
“The Dean invites all guest preachers for services to be held at the cathedral. This remains the Dean’s responsibility even when the service is organised jointly with another organisation.”
Not banned, then, just not invited. Different words, same outcome.
According to the sub-Dean, Reverend Dr Elizabeth Tomson, the Cathedral would not permit Mr Tinker to preach from its pulpit because “what is preached in the Cathedral will be taken as being preached by the Cathedral.”
Enquiry from the CU led to the further response from the sub-Dean that the refusal to give permission for Rev Tinker to speak was due to the relations between St John’s and the Diocese of York. This is an allusion, no doubt, to Rev Tinker’s criticism, in 2015, of Canon Michael Smith of York Minster over his decision to bless an LGBT Pride march in the city.
Earlier this year (2018) Derby Cathedral screened an unedited version of the 1973 film Don’t Look Now, which contains a graphic sex scene. It has also shown The Wicker Man, which features a scene in which women dance naked, and another in which a character is burned alive in a cage.
Responding to criticism from local churches, Dean Hance said that the films wouldn’t be “showing God anything that he hasn’t seen before”. He added the cathedral was “for everybody” and it needed to serve a wide range of people in Derby.
Well, no, actually. Apparently, the cathedral may for those who would like to ‘explore the faith implications’ of horror movies and soft porn. But it’s not for anyone who seeks to proclaim the word of God. The cathedral’s policy of ‘radical inclusion’ applies to everyone except faithful ministers of the gospel.
Bishop Gavin Ashenden, who resigned as Chaplain to the Queen, after protesting against the Koran reading at Glasgow Cathedral told Rebel Priest: “It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the Dean’s refusal is at the very least disingenuous. Melvin Tinker’s reputation, both intellectually and spiritually, and the impact he has had over the years amongst students are formidable. Any cathedral that really wanted to share the gospel would be delighted to have him in their pulpit.”
The use of cathedrals for activities alien to the gospel has become rather frequent in recent years. As reported here:-
• Earlier [in November 2018], Blackburn Cathedral hosted a Muslim call to prayer.
• In August 2018, Portsmouth Cathedral withdrew nude paintings from a cathedral art show after churchgoers complained.
• Gloucester Cathedral held an interfaith event, which included the Muslim call to prayer in 2017.
• St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow invited a Muslim to read passages from the Koran that explicitly denied the divinity of Christ at an Epiphany Eucharistic service in 2017.
• Ely Cathedral was criticised for flying the Rainbow Flag during the Gay Pride month in 2018.
• Gay Pride in York for the past few years has begun its parade from outside the West End of York Minster with the full support of Dean Vivienne Faull, who is now Bishop of Bristol. The Canon Pastor of York Minster has blessed and offered a prayer for the pride march.
• Southwark Cathedral has participated in the Gay Pride march in 2018 with the Cathedral banner, following the “success of our participation in last year’s London Pride Parade”.
• The Isle of Man Cathedral draped the high altar and an icon of Jesus with the Rainbow Flag at special service in memory of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016.
• LGBT Eucharistic services in cathedrals are becoming increasingly common as seen from recent services in Wells Cathedral and Reading Minster.
See also this article from Premier Christian Radio.