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Relief and disquiet as controversial church split minister resigns

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 27/08/2015

Knocknamuckley church in Co Armagh
Knocknamuckley church in Co Armagh
Rev Alan Killpatrick with his wife Jan

Controversial Church of Ireland minister Reverend Alan Kilpatrick has officially resigned from the troubled Knocknamuckley parish in Co Armagh and says he is feeling "great".

Over the past couple of years parishioners at the rural St Matthias's Church on Bleary Road near Lurgan had been split over his relaxed style of ministry, which was said to rarely involve him wearing official robes or preaching from the pulpit.

Following the row the Scottish minister stepped down from his role in May, and has now officially handed in his resignation.

Some of the Knocknamuckley congregation have moved with him to his new church.

"I am staying in the Church of Ireland," Rev Kilpatrick told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday.

"I am already leading a missional congregation in the Craigavon area. We are in Bleary and will be moving on October 1 to a venue to be announced."

On his general mood, he added: "I'm fine, I'm good, I'm great."

One parishioner described Rev Kilpatrick's official resignation as "a weight off our shoulders" while another member of the Knocknamuckley Concerned Parishioners group welcomed the development, but voiced other concerns to this newspaper.

"He is still in the parish boundary," the member said. "Apparently he is looking at a house in the parish boundary and I understand that is unacceptable."

On what difference it would make if he did live in the parish, the member said: "Would you want him on your doorstep?"

A statement from the Down and Dromore Diocese of the Church of Ireland confirmed Rev Kilpatrick's resignation and said his replacement will be appointed in due course.

"Mr Kilpatrick signalled his intention to step down on September 30 in May," the statement said. "The parish will therefore fall vacant on October 1, 2015. Until then its representatives are not in a position to look for a new minister.

"Mr Kilpatrick will continue as minister-in-charge of the missional congregation which is under the authority of the bishop and Diocese of Down and Dromore.

"It is currently meeting in temporary premises in Bleary."

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