An ordained priest in the Anglican church in America, TuTu van Furth was invited to preside over the funeral of Martin Kenyon, who died passed away at the age of 92. The Church of England stated that its policy is “in line with the House of Bishops current guidance on same-sex marriage.”
In a statement, the Diocese of Hereford said, “We acknowledge this is a difficult situation.”
According to the polity of the Church of England, clergy are only allowed to be in same-sex relationships as long as they are celibate and the church does not conduct or bless same-sex marriages.
Tutu van Furth’s wife, Marceline, accused the Church of England of homophobia and that the couple had visited Kenyon in April and he requested that Mpho preside over his funeral.
“That she can’t do something out of love for her godfather and for the family just because of the same-sex marriage … that’s something that upsets me,” she said.
Because of the church’s stance, Kenyon’s family was forced to relocate the funeral service from St. Michael and All Angels church to a marquee on the grounds next door so Tutu van Furth could preside in an unofficial capacity.
“The family is devastated at the church’s decision,” a family friend said. “Even in a conservative rural hinterland like Shropshire, people are appalled at what has happened. It’s unchristian and unjust.”
Kenyon and Desmond Tutu were close friends for many years and both were the godfathers to each other’s daughters.
Bishop Demond Tutu was a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, making him the most prominent voice in the Anglican Church of South Africa.
“I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven,” he said in 2013. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.”
“I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid, he added.”
Before he passed away last December, he gave a “father’s blessing” to his daughter’s same-sex marriage even though the South African church banned him from officiating.
Although same-sex marriages have been legal in South Africa since 2006, Tutu van Furth gave up her clergy rights in 2016 because the Anglican church does not permit its clergy to be in same-sex marriages.