Chris Wardale

Chris was bought up in Yorkshire and after studying at Newcastle university, passed through the Church of England’s selection processes with ease and began his ministry in a colliery town in the North East on the first day of the miners’ strike. He was very publically outed on his arrival into a new post in Darlington. In 2005 he was the first clergy person to enter into a civil partnership, with his long-term partner Malcolm Macourt.

“I went through the whole process of selection, and nobody asked the question. Yes, they knew, but those were the days. Everybody knows but nobody says anything.  It was very much the gentlemanly way that the Church of England decided on the people they felt they wanted.”

“There were other people (at my selection conference) who were gay.   We’d swapped phone numbers and I rang round. They had been rejected because there were questions about their sexuality.   At the time it all seemed very strange.”

(Whilst serving in Darlington) “we were outed in the press and the world went crazy for about a week. And we invented the little tag that we’ve always kept: we’re middle-aged, we’re middle-class and we’re boring as hell! So within days, the tabloids gave up.”

“But the net result was that I could walk down the street not having to be schizophrenic anymore, because everyone knew.   And Darlington didn’t mind.  And if Darlington didn’t mind, you were pretty safe. It was awful when it happened, but that kind of outing thing was an amazingly releasing thing.  And I think in many ways, made my ministry, not more honest in a way, but much more outward looking.”

You can hear Chris’s story here.