Gavin Ashenden

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Gavin Ashenden
Gavin Roy Pelham Ashenden

(1954-06-03) 3 June 1954 (age 66)
Alma mater
Ordained1980–2017: priest in the Church of England
2017–2019: missionary bishop in the Christian Episcopal Church

Gavin Roy Pelham Ashenden (born 3 June 1954) is a British Catholic layman, a former priest of the Church of England, and a former continuing Anglican bishop. He was an Honorary Chaplain to the Queen from 2008 until his resignation in 2017.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Ashenden was born on 3 June 1954 in London, England, the son of Michael Roy Edward Ashenden and Carol Ashenden (née Simpson, now Salmon).[2] He was educated at Rokeby Preparatory School and as a music scholar at The King's School, Canterbury. He graduated from the University of Bristol, with a degree in law. He trained for the Anglican priesthood at Oak Hill Theological College, where he read for a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology. Whilst at Oak Hill he was also sent as part of his training to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist[3] in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex,[4] where he came under the influence of Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov).[citation needed]

Ashenden did postgraduate work at Heythrop College at the University of London with a Master of Theology degree on the psychology of religion. Whilst a chaplain and member of faculty at the University of Sussex, he completed a doctorate on the life and work of Charles Williams (1999). He published Alchemy and Integration, a study of Williams' work in 2007, which was reviewed by the Archbishop Rowan Williams[5] in the Times Literary Supplement.[6]

Ministry and other positions[edit]

Ashenden was ordained at Southwark Cathedral in 1980 and served as a parish priest for 10 years in the Diocese of Southwark, firstly at St James's Bermondsey[7] and then as vicar of Hamsey Green in Sanderstead.[8] In Sanderstead he worked alongside Thomas Smail who had been director of the Fountain Trust.

In 1989 he was appointed to the post of university chaplain and senior lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Sussex where he lectured in literature and the psychology of religion. He was appointed a senior officer of the university in 1994. He convened and taught the MA programme "Monotheism and Mysticism in Critical Theology". From 1995 to 2003 he also lectured in systematic theology at the University of Brighton.

He was appointed as a canon of Chichester Cathedral in 2003, and then to a further theological canonry (Bursalis Prebendary) in 2006. He was an examining chaplain to the Bishop of Chichester and Diocesan Adviser on New Age Religions.

In 1998 he was a Church of England delegate to the 8th Council of the World Council of Churches held in Harare, Zimbabwe. He was a member of the General Synod of the Church of England for from 1995 to 2012. He has lectured in the United States, most recently as a visiting theologian for the Lutheran Church in Oregon.[9]

In 2012 he took early retirement and moved to a house for duty post as vicar of St Martin de Gouray in Gorey, Jersey.[10]

He was vice-chairman of the Keston Institute during the 1980s,[11] and a director of Aid to Russian Christians,[12] in which role he engaged in smuggling Bibles and medicine to the "Underground Church" in the Soviet Union during that decade.

He was a member of the Society of the Holy Cross and previously a member of the Little Brothers of Jesus.[13] He was a member of Forward in Faith. He combined the experience of and allegiance to the Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical and Charismatic strands of the Church of England.

In 2016, Ashenden was appointed to the board of reference for the Global Anglican Future Conference[14][15] He also joined Anglican TV Ministries as their UK correspondent.[16]

Resignation from Church of England positions[edit]

In early 2017, Ashenden resigned from his position as Chaplain to the Queen after speaking out against a service at St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow, at which a Muslim law student read (in Arabic) a passage from the Koran that explicitly declared that Jesus is not the Son of God[17][18] and because of his views on Islam and orthodox Christianity.[19] Ashenden concluded that being a member of the Ecclesiastical Household meant he could not speak out on matters he felt strongly about and that it was his duty and calling to speak on issues relating to the integrity of the Christian faith.[18]

One of the consequences of his resignation was a variety of media engagements in several countries, including Fox News in the United States,[20] The Bolt Report in Australia,[21] and James Delingpole's Delingpole Podcast in the UK.[22]

On 17 March 2017, Ashenden lodged a deed in the High Court of London under the Clerical Disabilities Act 1870, to relinquish his orders within the Church of England.[23]

Christian Episcopal Church[edit]

In September 2017 Archbishop Theodore Casimes of the Christian Episcopal Church announced that Ashenden had been consecrated as a missionary bishop for the United Kingdom and Europe.[24] In fact, Ashenden's episcopal consecration had taken place over four years earlier on 17 October 2013 in the Pro-Cathedral Church of Saint Saviour in Richmond, British Columbia.[25] The ordaining prelates were Robert David Redmile, Bishop of Richmond, Theodore Casimes, Primate of the Christian Episcopal Churches of North America, Timothy Klerekoper, Bishop of Seattle, Washington, and John Geoffrey Sykes, Bishop in George Town, Grand Cayman Island, and Suffragan Bishop of Richmond.[25] At the time of his consecration, Ashenden was appointed to be suffragan to Bishop Redmile in Normandy for the Channel Islands and France.[25]

On 24 August 2018, Ashenden was transferred from the authority and jurisdiction of Bishop Redmile to that of Archbishop Casimes.

Ashenden left the Christian Episcopal Church in December 2019.

Catholic Church[edit]

On 22 December 2019 Ashenden was received into the Catholic Church by the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, at Shrewsbury Cathedral. Bishop Davies commented that it was "very humbling to be able to receive a bishop of the Anglican tradition into full communion in the year of the canonization of Saint John Henry Newman."[26] Ashenden may become a priest of the Catholic Church or stay a lay theologian, depending upon the determination of the Holy See.[27]

In the media[edit]

In 2008, Ashenden was appointed to be the presenter of the Faith and Ethics programme for BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey, until 2012.[28] From 2009 to 2012 he also presented the BBC podcast Faith in England.[29]

In 2013, he began a weekly column in the Jersey Evening Post, where his defence of orthodox Christianity and its critique of modern culture caused both strong support and opposition.[30]

He was a contributor to both Anglican Ink[31] and Anglican TV[32] before creating a new internet programme 'Catholic Unscripted.' [33]

He has been interviewed frequently since in the mainstream media. Following the Royal Wedding in 2018, Rod Liddle interviewed him in the Sunday Times over the controversy surrounding Bishop Curry's sermon.[34] BBC 2's Newsnight took up the issue when the Archbishop of Canterbury raised questions about God and gender.[35] John Anderson, formerly deputy prime minister of Australia, conducted an interview on the dangers to freedom of speech in his series "conversations".[36] Ashenden has contributed Op Ed pieces in both the Times and the Daily Telegraph.[37] He is a regular contributor to the Spectator's religious affairs podcast 'Holy Smoke.' [38] He maintains a website for the publication of homilies, articles and commentary at[39]

Ashenden has written on Russian Orthodox spirituality in A Guidebook to the Spiritual Life (ed. Peter Toon).[40] He also wrote The Oxford Inklings[41] and about C. S. Lewis in Persona and Paradox.[42]


Styles and titles[edit]


  1. ^ "ASHENDEN, Dr Gavin Roy Pelham". Who's Who. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Ashenden, Rt Rev. Dr Gavin Roy Pelham". Who's Who 2019. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2019. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.001.0001/ww-9780199540884-e-250394. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain – Monastery of St. John the Baptist". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Rowan Williams in the TLS on Gavin Ashenden's work 'Alchemy and Integration". 18 June 2008. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  6. ^ Ashenden, Gavin (1 November 2007). "Charles Williams: Alchemy and Integration". The Kent State University Press. Retrieved 16 April 2017 – via
  7. ^ "St James Church, Bermondsey". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Sanderstead Team Ministry – The Diocese of Southwark". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Faith Dialogues at Saint Mark – Saint Mark Lutheran Church". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Home". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Keston Institute : Resources for the Studies of Communist Countries and Religious Affairs". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  12. ^ International, Center for Civil Society. "Aid to Russian Christians". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  13. ^ Ashenden, Gavin. "About". Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  14. ^ "GAFCON UK Panel of Reference named – Anglican Mainstream". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  15. ^ "About GAFCON UK – GAFCON UK". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  16. ^ "AnglicanTV Ministries". Retrieved 16 April 2017 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ Farley, Harry (11 January 2017). "Controversy Over Cathedral Koran Reading Deepens With Denial That Jesus Is Son of God". Christian Today. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  18. ^ a b Turner, Camilla (22 January 2017). "Queen's chaplain resigns over cathedral Koran reading row saying he has a 'duty' to defend Christianity". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  19. ^ "An interview with Fox News – USA". 27 January 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  20. ^ Fox News (26 January 2017). "Reverend resigns after Quran is read in Christian church". Retrieved 16 April 2017 – via YouTube.
  21. ^ "The Bolt Report (@theboltreport)". Twitter. Retrieved 16 April 2017.[non-primary source needed]
  22. ^ Delingpole, James. "Gavin Ashenden – Delingpole with James Delingpole". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  23. ^ "As Gavin Ashenden leaves the Church of England, the Ordinariate circles like a vulture". 18 March 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Former Queen's Chaplain Consecrated Missionary Bishop to Anglicans in UK and Europe". Virtue Online. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  25. ^ a b c Statement of Bishop Redmile regarding Bishop Ashenden
  26. ^ Anglican Bishop and Queen’s Chaplain Converts to Catholicism
  27. ^ "Gavin Ashenden on why, after decades in the Church of England, he joined the Catholic fold". Christian Today. 22 December 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ "BBC Radio Sheffield". Retrieved 16 April 2017.[non-primary source needed]
  30. ^ "Freedom of Expression Series " Jersey Evening Post". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  31. ^ "Anglican Ink Author Biographies – Gavin Ashenden". Anglican Ink. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  32. ^ "Anglican TV". Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ "A Guidebook to the spiritual life". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  41. ^
  42. ^

External links[edit]