The Very Reverend Dr Jeffrey Philip Hywel John (born 10 February 1953) is a Church of England cleric, and the current Dean of St Albans. He made headlines in 2003 when he was the first openly gay person to be nominated to be a Church of England bishop. Owing to the consequent controversy, he was forced to stand down before he took up the bishopric.
He was born in Tonyrefail in South Wales, in 1953, and studied at Hertford College, Oxford, where he gained a first in classics and modern languages in 1975. He subsequently studied theology at St Stephen’s House, Oxford.
After a curacy in Penarth, Llandaff, he returned to Oxford in 1980 to read for a doctorate in Pauline theology. He became chaplain at Brasenose College, before in 1984 being appointed dean of divinity at Magdalen College, Oxford.
Dr John is a founder member and a trustee of Affirming Catholicism, a group formed in 1990 promoting catholicism within the Anglican church, and which supported the campaign for the ordination of women.
He was Vicar of Holy Trinity, Eltham, (in the Diocese of Southwark) in south London from 1991, and in 1997 he became canon chancellor and theologian of Southwark Cathedral.
On 20 May 2003 his appointment as the new Bishop of Reading, a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Oxford, was announced.
His nomination led to controversy both in the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion, despite the celibate nature of his relationship with his same-sex partner (in accordance with the guidelines of the CofE). He has for many years been a campaigner for gay rights.
Some conservative, evangelical, and traditionalist churches in the United States and Africa were prominent in their threats to split from the Anglican Communion should Dr John’s consecration proceed. Concerns over the potential for division within the church led the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams, to request Dr John to step down. On 6 July 2003, he withdrew from his appointment to the bishopric.
On 19 April 2004, 10 Downing Street announced Dr John’s appointment to the Deanery of St Albans. He was invested at a ceremony at the cathedral on 2 July 2004.