Dean of St Albans receives honorary doctorate at University of Herts' graduation ceremony
PUBLISHED: 13:52 28 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:52 28 September 2015
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A pillar of the community in St Albans, who has long been a key proponent for same-sex marriage, has received a doctorate in the church where he often leads prayers.
The Very Rev Jeffrey John was awarded a Doctor of Letters at St Albans Cathedral by the University of Hertfordshire on Tuesday, September 15, in recognition of his contribution to theology and to this county.
The influential clergyman has been the Dean of St Albans for more than a decade.
On the national stage, he has been an advocate for same-sex marriage and equality within society and the church.
Dr John has also lobbied for the ordination of women bishops, and was one of the founding members of Affirming Catholicism, a group promoting Catholicism within the Anglican tradition.
He is highly regarded by senior figures within the Church of England, who describe him as a powerful, theologically literate preacher who holds every quality needed to be a bishop.
However, when he first entered the church, he admits divisions concerned him, and he was sent by his superiors to see a psychiatrist, which he said made him very angry.
But, the psychiatrist wrote that he was “a good deal saner than those who thought it necessary to send him to me.”
In 2003 Dr John, who was born in south Wales and had a ‘calling’ to the church when attending Hertford College, Oxford, was the first person openly in a same-sex relationship to be nominated as a Bishop within the Church of England.
However, his appointment as Bishop of Reading was blocked and reports of two subsequent nominations attracted both support and criticism from all quarters of the church.
Dr John said that being awarded the honorary degree was a “huge honour … [and] an unexpected and very great privilege.
“The Cathedral is the oldest centre of learning in Hertfordshire. There has been a library, scriptorium and school here since the time of King Offa who built the first Benedictine Abbey in 795.
“It is a great pleasure and wonderfully appropriate that the university confers its degrees in this building, which has promoted so much intercultural academic exchange through the centuries.”