Tony Crowe was born in Bristol and trained for the priesthood at Oxford, where he first developed an interest in criminal law reform, and was involved with the work of the Homosexual Law Reform Society. He was amongst the first to be ordained at Coventry Cathedral in May 1959, served as a curate Nuneaton, and subsequently in parish ministry in Eltham and Clapham. He moved to Charlton in south London in 1973 and remained there for for 21 years. Now retired, he lives on the north Kent coast.
“(The blessings at Charlton started because) I was on the Council of Christian Action and Eric James asked me to review a sort of booklet called Campaign for Reason. I wrote and article about this and it ended up in the press – ‘Gay Love OK Says Vicar’ – and I mentioned about the possibility of a priest blessing gay Christians, or allowing people to kiss openly in the street if public opinion changed. I was approached by two people who lived nearby in Lewisham. It was in the press at the time. Because of that I was involved with LGCM, I knew Richard Kirker and he used to refer blessings to me, and also the Gay Switchboard (did likewise.) About 31 during my time. November 1978 was the first.”
“Only about one person left the church, and one former churchwarden came back, so I took the church with me and I had the support of the church council. It was a very liberal and outward looking church, very keen on the ordination of women, and I always thought the ordination of women and the acceptance of gay relationships were two sides of the same coin…We had a lovely person called Peggy Denny who had been praying for 20 years for such services to take place. So we had people there in the congregation. It was a wonderful place to be, St Luke’s Charlton.”
You can listen to Tony’s interview here.