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Royal Black Preceptory says ban is breach of its civil liberties

By John Porter

Published 27/04/2015

The Royal Black Preceptory has claimed that a ban on its members using St Matthias' Church of Ireland breached their "civil and religious liberties".

The organisation has been banned from using the Knocknamuckley church for its service on Sunday, May 10, it has been reported.

It is understood that its members have been offered the use of the church hall instead.

The Royal Black was also "furious" over a letter, signed by the Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Right Reverend Harold Miller, which questioned the ethos of the organisation, the Sunday World newspaper reported.

In the correspondence, Bishop Miller wrote that he was "minded to consider setting up a theological commission to report to me on this matter if it remains contentious".

Bishop Miller - who initially refused to intervene in the dispute engulfing the congregation - is to hold a series of crisis meetings over the coming days.

He is also set to speak at two services in a bid to bring together the parish and resolve the differences.

In a separate move, more than 200 people have signed a petition to express their concern about the practices of St Matthias' minister, Rev Alan Kilpatrick.

The 'letter of petition' to Bishop Miller is believed to have more than 230 signatures.

Parishioners have boycotted services in the Co Armagh church over what they have called his "happy-clappy" style.

The Scots-born, earring-wearing cleric has divided his congregation, with many having left the church in protest.

Belfast Telegraph

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