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Vestry in Knocknamuckley church split row is urged to resign

By Lesley Houston

Published 18/06/2015

Rev Alan Kilpatrick talks with his wife Jan in Craigavon Civic Centre last night
Rev Alan Kilpatrick talks with his wife Jan in Craigavon Civic Centre last night

There is further upheaval at Knocknamuckley Church of Ireland parish in Co Armagh.

Some parishioners are now calling for the resignation of the select vestry at St Matthias's near Lurgan following the departure of controversial Rev Alan Kilpatrick.

He left after the congregation divided over his style of ministry.

Rev Kilpatrick rarely wore traditional robes or preached from the pulpit, and was said to have a connection to the Bethel Church of Supernatural Ministries based in California.

The select vestry is chaired by the rector and looks after the finances and buildings of the parish.

The Concerned Parishioners group which opposed Rev Kilpatrick is now objecting to the composition of the select vestry, claiming 12 of its 16 members back the former rector.

Members met with a delegation representing Bishop Harold Miller last night to voice their concerns.

It's believed they want the vestry to resign and have threatened to set up a shadow body if that does not come about.

The under-fire vestry also met with the Bishop's representatives.

Following those meetings the delegation headed to another gathering at Craigavon Civic Centre attended by the breakaway congregation under Rev Kilpatrick.

The church-goers who rejected Rev Kilpatrick's modern style said they were concerned that the majority of the vestry side with Rev Kilpatrick and claimed they still hold the purse-strings and management of the parish, even though they worship elsewhere.

Those who left the main congregation and its traditional style now meet at Craigavon Civic Centre following a brief stay at a local sports club.

Following their meeting, the select vestry members remained tight-lipped about what was discussed

One member said concerns over their continued status as vestry members smacked of a "lack of trust".

He said it was "business as usual" and referring to the parishioners asked: "In what way are they being affected?"

Rev Kilpatrick rejected the charge the select vestry was being partisan and said it would continue to be "run with honour".

"They have no desire but to bless everyone there, and though it sounds trite, we just want what's best for St Matthias's."

Archdeacon David McClay said last night's meetings were part of the process initiated by Bishop Miller to still the troubled waters within the congregation.

He said: "The important thing to remember is that both congregations are still part of the parish of Knocknamuckley and the select vestry is still looking after both congregations."

Background

The row at troubled rural St Matthias's Church ended with the minister leaving and the congregation splitting in two. There is now further turmoil as some of the more traditional parishioners object to the composition of the select vestry which runs the finances of the church, as they feel it supports the departed minister.

Some have called for its members to resign and have threatened to set up a rival body if that does not happen, with the potential for a further split.

Further Reading

Minister who soaked Belfast Telegraph man to leave troubled Armagh parish  

Knocknamuckley: The church row that has gone way beyond the pail  

Clergyman Tom Conway who doused Belfast Telegraph man in water admits he overreacted  

Rev Alan Kilpatrick's first service held in social club  

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