Glasgow & West Scotland

Queen's chaplain resigns over Glasgow cathedral Koran row

Gavin Ashenden
Image caption Mr Ashenden said he wanted to be free to criticise Anglican attempts to reach out to Islam

One of the Queen's chaplains has resigned after a row about reading from the Koran in a Glasgow church.

The Reverend Gavin Ashenden, a senior clergyman in the Church of England, left his position as chaplain in order to be free to criticise the move.

A passage from the Koran was read during an Epiphany service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow earlier this month.

Mr Ashenden said the reading had caused "serious offence".

The cathedral has said it is standing by its decision.

St Mary's invited local Muslims, who revere Jesus as a prophet but not as the son of God, to join the service.

A student, Madinah Javed, read from the lectern in Arabic from the chapter of Maryam, or Mary.

The chapter tells the story of the birth of Christ to the virgin Mary, and includes the Islamic teaching that Jesus is not the son of God and should not be worshipped.

Image copyright Thomas Nugent
Image caption Local Muslims were invited to join a service at the cathedral

Mr Ashenden told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme: "The problem with what happened in Glasgow was that, although it was presented as a way of building bridges and a way of educating people, it was done badly, in the wrong way, in the wrong place, in the wrong context.

"There are a number of members of the congregation who have written open letters complaining of the profound upset they experienced as people who are part of the Eucharistic community who had come to worship Christ."

The cathedral's provost, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, has said readings of the Koran in the cathedral were part of efforts to build relationships between Christians and Muslims in Glasgow.

He said: "Such readings have happened a number of times in the past in this and in other churches and have led to deepening friendships locally, to greater awareness of the things we hold in common and to dialogue about the ways in which we differ."

Asked if he had known what the Koran verse specifically said about Jesus, Mr Holdsworth declined to comment further.

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