Martyn Percy

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In 41 of the 53 countries within the British Commonwealth, homosexual conduct is still regarded as a serious crime. This categorisation and legal stigmatisation of homosexuality was largely 'made in England' in the nineteenth century, and imposed on cultures and emerging countries and that had not been, hitherto, homophobic. This is one of England's less wholesome exports. The Archbishop of Canterbury could begin the Primates' meeting by accepting responsibility for the part the Church of England has played in perpetrating this discrimination and the subsequent injustices – and publicly repenting of them. [70]

Just days before the commencement of the January 2016 Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting, Percy joined with over 100 other senior Anglicans, including Alan Wilson (Bishop of Buckingham) and David Ison (Dean of St Paul's), [71] in calling on archbishops Welby and Sentamu to acknowledge the failings of the Anglican Communion in its treatment of LGBTQ people. [72] Following the decision of the primates to penalise the US Episcopal Church, for voting to redefine marriage at its 2015 general convention, Percy expressed his disappointment. He went on to say that the meeting's statement regarding this action, "had nothing to say about LGBT Christians, and that's a lost opportunity". [73]


In the wake of the United Kingdom EU membership referendum in June 2016, Percy has argued that a national "failure of liberal values" was made evident by the result. [74] He has also suggested the need for a more "broad church" approach to British party politics, potentially in the form of a new centre-left party that is "authentically rooted in modern, progressive socialism, and equally true to modern, progressive, democratic liberal values". [75]


Since 2015, Percy has been actively involved in the campaign to restore the reputation of Bishop George Bell, following the Church of England's decision to compensate a woman who alleged that she had been sexually abused by Bell. He is a member of the George Bell Group and has published a number of key articles questioning the competence of those who have presumed Bell to be a perpetrator of abuse. [76] A subsequent independent report by Lord Carlile of Berriew found that there was no basis in law for presuming that the allegations made against Bell could have been sustained. [77] [78]

In March 2018, Percy called for the church to develop an independent self-regulating authority to handle safeguarding issues, arguing that the churches can only be ultimately trusted as public bodies if they voluntarily relinquish some control over their own policies and practices. [79]

Percy’s work on behalf of victims of sexual abuse in the church has continued alongside IICSA (Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse) reports focussing on the Church of England. This has included calling for better training and regulation in the churches, and greater fairness, justice and remedy for both the victims of abuse and those who may be falsely accused. [80] [81]

In an article concerning the release by international artists of a music video about victimisation in Church of England safeguarding, Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 abuse complaints as well as the Church's employment of reputation management company, Luther Pendragon, and law firm, Winckworth Sherwood, the Editor of the Church of England Newspaper cited a detailed statement by Percy which he had published on the Surviving Church website:

The collusion, coverups, misconduct, incompetence and corruption in safeguarding are well known. The Archbishops do nothing. That is why we must all protest, and invite everybody to show solidarity with the abused, and stand apart from the Church of England until such time as it submits, completely, to public standards of justice and truth…then repents, apologises and starts full and proper redress for its victims. Until then, the Church of England remains unsafe, and is in unsafe hands. [82]

Women bishops

Following the General Synod's narrow rejection of a motion to legalise the ordination of women as bishops in November 2012, Percy wrote in The Daily Telegraph criticising church leaders for failing to create sufficient consensus about the issue. He described the view of opponents to the motion as maintaining a "conceit of modern times" by their fundamentalist rejection of diversity. He also voiced the need for the church to be "transformed by the renewal of our minds" in its approach to the inclusion of women in the Anglican Communion, by moving towards a "new future". [83]

In February 2017, he suggested that Bishop Philip North either decline his nomination as Bishop of Sheffield or renounce the views of The Society, a conservative body which does not recognise or receive the ministry of ordained women, or men ordained by women bishops. [84] North later withdrew his acceptance of the nomination, citing "personal attacks". [85] In a radio discussion of North's decision, Percy refuted the accusation that his position demonstrated a form of "liberal intolerance". He reasoned that resistance to discrimination is not equivalent to intolerance. [86]

Personal life

Percy has the distinction of being the only living theologian mentioned and quoted in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (chapter 55), where Sir Leigh Teabing says, "Everything you need to know about the Bible can be summed up by the great canon doctor Martyn Percy: 'The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven.'" [87]

Percy is married to Emma Percy, who is chaplain and fellow at Trinity College, Oxford, and together they have two sons. He is a member of the Labour Party, a teetotaler and a lifelong supporter of Everton Football Club. His hobbies include running, playing squash, cinema, and listening to jazz.[ citation needed ]

In addition to the work edited by Markham and Daniel, Reasonable Radical? Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy (2017), which focuses on Percy's theology, the Northern Irish poet Peter McDonald's Five Psalms for Martyn Percy reworks Psalms 8, 25, 94, 98 and 114 in poetic form to explore aspects of Percy's life using elegy, lament, hope, justice and vindication.

Published works

Martyn Percy
Martyn Percy at Christ Church (cropped).jpg
Percy in 2017
Martyn William Percy

(1962-07-31) 31 July 1962 (age 60)
Political party Labour Party
Emma Percy
(m. 1989)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Anglican)
Church Church of England
  • 1990 (deacon)
  • 1991 (priest)
Offices held
Dean of Christ Church (2014–2022)
Academic background
Alma mater
Thesis "Signs, Wonders and Church Growth" [1]  (1993)
Doctoral advisor
The Precarious Church: Reforming the Body of ChristSCM-Canterbury Press2023
The Spirit of WitnessSCM-Canterbury Press2023
An Advent ManifestoBRF2023
Forty Psalms of SolaceBloomsbury2023
Faiths Lost and Found: Understanding Apostasy Darton, Longman & Todd2023
Others: A Very Short Book About BeliefsJohn Hunt Publishing2022 ISBN   978-1119424383
The Blackwell Companion to Religion and PeaceBlackwell2022 ISBN   978-1803410685
The Humble Church: Renewing the Body of ChristSCM-Canterbury Press2021 ISBN   978-1786223159
The SPCK Handbook of the Study of MinistrySPCK2019 ISBN   9780281081363 Edited with Ian Markham, Emma Percy and Francesca Po
Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn PercyPickwick Publications2018 ISBN   9781532617836 Edited by Ian Markham and Joshua Daniel
Untamed Gospel: Poems, Prose and ProtestsCanterbury Press2017 ISBN   9781848259904 Co-authored with Nigel Biggar, Jamie Coates, Jim Cotter, Sarah Foot, Carol Harrison, Sylvia Sands and Graham Ward
Clergy, Culture and Ministry The dynamics of Roles and Relations in Church and Society SCM Press 2017 ISBN   9780334056188 Editor
The Future Shapes of Anglicanism: Currents, Contours, Charts Routledge 2017 ISBN   9781472477170
The Oxford Handbook of Anglican Studies Oxford University Press 2015 ISBN   9780199218561 Edited with Mark Chapman and Sathianathan Clarke
Curacies and How to Survive Them SPCK 2015 ISBN   9780281073436 Co-authored with Matthew Caminer and Beaumont Stevenson
The Wisdom of the Spirit: Gospel, Church and Culture Routledge 2014 ISBN   9781472435651 Edited with Pete Ward
The Bright Field: Meditations and Reflections for Ordinary TimeCanterbury Press2014 ISBN   9781848256125 Editor
Anglicanism: Confidence, Commitment and Communion Routledge 2013 ISBN   9781409470366
Thirty Nine New Articles: An Anglican Landscape of FaithCanterbury Press2013 ISBN   9781848255258
The Ecclesial Canopy: Faith, Hope, Charity (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology) Routledge 2012 ISBN   9781409441205
A Point of Balance: The Weight and Measure of AnglicanismCanterbury Press2011 ISBN   9780819228444 Edited with Robert Slocum
Shaping the Church: The Promise of Implicit Theology Routledge 2010 ISBN   9780754666059
Apostolic Women, Apostolic AuthorityCanterbury Press2010 ISBN   9780819224507 Edited with Christina Rees
Christ and Culture: Communion After LambethCanterbury Press2010 ISBN   9780819227980 Editor
Evaluating Fresh ExpressionsCanterbury Press2008 ISBN   9781853118166 Edited with Louise Nelstrop
Darkness Yielding: Liturgies, Prayers and Reflections for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week and EasterCanterbury Press2007 ISBN   9781853118449 Co-authored with Jim Cotter, Sylvia Sands, William Hubert Vanstone and Rowan Williams
Clergy: The Origin of Species Continuum International 2006 ISBN   9780826482877
Why Liberal Churches are Growing T&T Clark 2006 ISBN   9780567081636 Edited with Ian Markham
Engaging with Contemporary Culture: Christianity, Theology and the Concrete Church Routledge 2005 ISBN   9780754632597
The Character of Wisdom: Essays in Honour of Wesley Carr Routledge 2004 ISBN   0754634183 Edited with Stephen Lowe
Fundamentalism, Church and Society SPCK 2002 ISBN   0281051887 Edited with Ian Jones
The Salt of the Earth: Religious Resilience in a Secular Age Continuum International 2001 ISBN   9781841270654 Re-published in Bloomsbury Academic Collection (2016)
Restoring the Image: Essays in Honour of David Martin Sheffield Academic Press 2001 ISBN   1841270644 Edited with Andrew Walker
Previous Convictions: Conversion in the Present Day SPCK 2000 ISBN   0281051801 Editor
Managing the Church? Order and Organisation in a Secular Age Sheffield Academic Press 2000 ISBN   1841270628 Edited with Gillian Evans
Calling Time: Religion and Change at the Turn of the Millennium Sheffield Academic Press 2000 ISBN   1841270636 Editor; re-published in Bloomsbury Academic Collection (2016)
Intimate Affairs: Sexuality and Spirituality in PerspectiveDarton, Longman & Todd1997 ISBN   0232522073 Editor
Power and the Church: Ecclesiology in an Age of Transition Cassell 1997 ISBN   9781441113580
Words, Wonders and Power: Understanding Contemporary Christian Fundamentalism and Revivalism SPCK 1996 ISBN   9780281048557

Key essays in edited books

‘Religion, Mobilisation and Power’ in The International Encyclopaedia of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Vol. 19Elsevier2001 ISBN   9780080430768
‘Whose Time is it Anyway? Evangelicals, the Millennium and Millenarianism' in Christian MillenarianismIndiana University Press2001 ISBN   9780253340139 Edited by Stephen Hunt
‘Falling Far Short: Taking Sin Seriously’ in Reinhold Niebuhr and Contemporary PoliticsOxford University Press2010 ISBN   9780199571833 Edited by Richard Harries and Stephen Platten
‘The Future of Religion’ in the Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in HealthcareOxford University Press2012 ISBN   9780199571390 Co-authored with Grace Davie, Edited by Mark R Cobb, Christina M Puchalski, and Bruce Rumbold
‘Jazz and Anglican Spirituality’ in Christian Congregational Music: Performance, Identity, ExperienceRoutledge2013 ISBN   9781409466024 Edited by Monique Ingalls, Carolyn Landau & Tom Wagner
‘The Anatomy of Fundamentalism’ in Fundamentalisms: Threats and Ideologies in the Modern WorldI.B.Tauris2015 ISBN   9781780769509 Edited by James Dunn
‘Protestantism’ in The Handbook of Christian MovementsBrill2015 ISBN   9789004265394 Edited by Stephan Hunt
‘Class, Ethnicity and Education: Leadership, Congregations and the Sociology of Anglicanism’ in The Oxford History of Anglicanism, Volume IV: Global Western Anglicanism, c. 1910-presentOxford University Press2017 ISBN   9780199641406 Edited by Jeremy Morris
’The Household of Faith: Anglican Obliquity and the Lambeth Conference’ in The Lambeth Conference and the Anglican CommunionBloomsbury2017 ISBN   9780567662316 Edited by Paul Avis and Benjamin Guyer
‘Mood, Identity and Character in Anglican Congregations’ in Theologically-Engaged AnthropologyOxford University Press2018 ISBN   9780198797852 Edited by J.Derrick Lemons
‘A Critical Theology of Megachurches’ in Handbook of MegachurchesBrill2019 ISBN   9789004399884 Edited by Stephen Hunt
‘Christmas in the Anglican Tradition’ in The Oxford Handbook of ChristmasOxford University Press2020 ISBN   9780198831464 Edited by Timothy Larsen
‘Bread and Honey: Social Flourishing and the Economics of Mutuality' in Putting Purpose into Practice: The Economics of MutualityOxford University Press2021 ISBN   9780198870708 Edited by Colin Meyer & Bruno Roche
“’The Myth of Impartiality: Moral Questioning in the BBC and the Church of England’” CRUCIBLESCM2022ISBNEdited by Angela Tilby
‘Crown, Constitution and Church: A Crisis for English Religion’” PROSPECT London2022ISBNEdited by Alan Rusbridger
‘Moods, Memes, Mood and Music: Understanding Ecclesiology’Oxford University Press2023ISBNEdited by Steve Guthrie & Bennett Zon

Other publications

Percy is the founding commissioning senior editor for three current book series with the publisher Routledge. The Explorations in Practical and Pastoral Theology Series (since 2002, with Jeff Astley, Leslie Francis and Nicola Slee – to date, 50 publications); the Contemporary Ecclesiology Series (since 2010 with Bruce Kaye and Tom Hughson SJ – to date, 20 publications); and the Congregational Music Studies Series (since 2016, with Monique Ingalls, Zoe Sherinian and Mark Porter – to date, 10 publications). From 2010-2014, Percy was commissioning series editor with Ian Markham for the Canterbury Press Studies in Anglicanism (comprising 7 edited volumes).

Using three different pseudonyms,[ specify ] Percy has also written other essays, papers, humour, articles, blog contributions and a number of shorter books.[ citation needed ]

See also

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  2. Coleman, Simon (2016). Abby Day (ed.). "Locating the Church". Contemporary Issues in the Worldwide Communion. Routledge: 213–228.
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  50. Martyn Percy (2013). Anglicanism: Confidence, Commitment and Communion. Routledge.
  51. Martyn Percy (2013). Thirty-Nine New Articles: An Anglican Landscape of Faith. Canterbury Press.
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  55. Walton, Andy (11 February 2016). "Evangelical college stands by decision to invite liberal professor to preach". Christian Today. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
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  61. Martyn Percy (12 July 2003). "Call off the canon fire". The Guardian.
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Church of England titles
Preceded by Dean of Christ Church
to be announced
Academic offices
Preceded by Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon
Succeeded by
Other offices
Preceded by
Alan Wilkinson
Scott Holland Memorial Lecturer
With: Jolyon Mitchell
Succeeded by