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Priest abandons Church of England in gay wedding protest

South Shropshire | News | Published:

A former Ludlow priest today revealed he is turning his back on the Church of England so he can lead the weddings of gay and mixed-religion couples.

A former Ludlow priest today revealed he is turning his back on the Church of England so he can lead the weddings of gay and mixed-religion couples.

Mark Townsend, from Leominster, said he had grown tired of the "creakiness and backwardness" of the church so he will join the Open Episcopal Church.

He wants to be able to express his pagan-leaning beliefs in the new role and a druid chief and goddess priestess have been invited to his induction at 3pm on June 18 at the Lion Ballroom, Leominster.

The ceremony will be led by the Right Reverend Jonathan Blake, best known for conducting a wedding on Channel Four's Big Brother's show.

Mr Townsend, 43, who preached at Ludlow's St Laurence's Church in the 1990s, said: "I still see myself as a progressive Christian priest but I'm aware this decision and the induction will raise a few eyebrows.

"But I'll be able to be myself finally and do things like gay ceremonies, unusual baptisms and marriages between Christians and Buddhists. I still love the Church of England but I got tired of the creakiness and backwardness of it all.

"I am very much a radical, but the Open Episcopal Church is very similar in structure and tradition to the Church of England. What it will do is to continue my very eclectic ethos and serve people who are right on margins of our society."

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