The Bishop of Grantham has become the first in the Church of England to publicly say that he is gay - and in a relationship.
Nicholas Chamberlain last night revealed the personal information in a move that will cause 'ripples' through the Church.
However he insisted that he has adhered to the Church's guidelines, which state that gay clergymen and women must be celibate and are not permitted to marry.
He added that his decision to come out was prompted by enquiries from a Sunday newspaper.
"It was not my decision to make a big thing about coming out," he said.
"People know I'm gay, but it's not the first thing I'd say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it's my ministry that I want to focus on."
According to The Guardian, when Bishop Chamberlain was consecrated last November, all those involved in appointment - including Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby - were aware of his sexuality.
Bishop Chamberlain's appointment was made by the bishop of Lincoln, Christopher Lowson, and endorsed by Archbishop Welby, who said: "I am and have been fully aware of Bishop Nick's long-term, committed relationship.
"His appointment as Bishop of Grantham was made on the basis of his skills and calling to serve the Church in the diocese of Lincoln.
"He lives within the bishops' guidelines and his sexuality is completely irrelevant to his office."
In a letter to parishes in his diocese, Bishop Lowson added: "For me, and for those who assisted in his appointment, the fact that Bishop Nicholas is gay is not, and has never been, a determining factor."
Over the last two years, the Church of England has been divided over the issue of sexuality. As society changes, tensions have emerged over whether it can continue holding the belief that marriage is solely the union of a man and woman.
Bishop Chamberlain added that he has been with his partner for many years, saying: "It is faithful, loving, we are like-minded, we enjoy each other's company and we share each other's life."
He added: "I hope I'll be able to be a standard-bearer for all people as a gay man. And I hope that I'll be able to help us move on beyond matters of sexuality."
The CofE said: "It would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church's teaching on sexual ethics."