Church in Wales could elect UK’s first female and first out gay archbishop

Bishop of Monouth

Cherry Vann, the Bishop of Monmouth, is in the running to be elected the Church in Wales’ first lesbian archbishop.

Following the retirement of John Davies, the election for a new archbishop of Wales has made history on multiple counts.

As well as there being a lesbian in the running, half of the six candidates are women. Vann would also be the first archbishop in a same-sex civil partnership. 

This comes less than five years after the election of the Church’s first female bishop, Joanna Penberthy. If a woman is elected, it would also make Wales the first country in the UK to vote a woman into the highest position.

At the time of her election as bishop of Monmouth, Vann said she hoped that LGBT+ people would take her appointment as a sign of hope. However, she has also denied that she will use her position within the Church to campaign for same-sex marriage.

Since October 2021, the Church in Wales has allowed for blessings for same-sex marriages.

The decision not to extend the move to full marriage equality itself has not come without criticism, with many arguing that the Church must go further.

Same-sex marriage continues to be a point of contention throughout denominations in the UK. The Church of England continues to deny blessings to same-sex marriages, as well as refusing to carry out those marriages themselves, insisting that gay and lesbian members of the clergy remain celibate. 

However, the Scottish Episcopal Church has allowed for same-sex marriage since 2017. Similarly, the Methodist Church overwhelmingly supported a proposal to allow same-sex marriage this June. Other denominations in the UK that allow same-sex marriages include the Quakers in Britain and the United Reformed Church.

The Church in Wales’ new archbishop will be chosen from Monday (7 December) with the 42-member Electoral College given up to three days to make its choice. If a decision is not reached within this time, it passes to the Bench of Bishops.