SUPPORTERS of gay priest Jeffrey John have this week spoken out in favour of his appointment as Dean of St Albans.

Dr John, who is currently Canon of Southwark Cathedral, sparked a barrage of controversy at his inaugural press conference when he announced his hope that the Church of England would one day bless same-sex unions.

The Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship last week issued a statement requesting that the appointment be withdrawn, calling it a "serious error of judgement".

But members of the abbey congregation have hit back, saying Dr John would bring "a track record of scholarship and preaching and a commitment to mission".

Acting dean Canon Stephen Lake said: "The support for Jeffrey John from the Cathedral Chapter and congregation is clear.

"The vast majority of the congregation have shown their support for the appointment and are looking forward to his installation and ministry here."

Canon Lake added that the abbey has received "numerous" messages of support since the announcement of the appointment.

Congregation member Sue Grieves also contacted the Observer to emphasise the depth of support for Dr John.

She said: "We have been without a dean for quite a while now so it's good to finally know who it's going to be.

"There may be opposition to the appointment but within the abbey itself there is so much support for him."

The date of Dr John's installation has been confirmed and will take place on Friday July 2.

We have been asked to clarify a statement made last week which claimed that the Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship represented 40 churches.

In fact 40 people, both clergy and laity, were present at the group's meeting.

Our reporter was unable to confirm how many churches the fellowship represents.