A clergyman who threw a basin of water over a Belfast Telegraph photographer and threatened to sue this newspaper for publishing his picture has apologised for his behaviour.
Rev Tom Conway, who has taken over at the troubled St Matthias Church at Knocknamuckley, near Portadown, lashed out at Telegraph lensman Kevin Scott, after conducting his first Sunday service at the church.
In a shocking series of photographs, the former Ulster Hospital chaplain can be seen shouting at our photographer and hurling a basin of water at the young snapper. Kevin was accompanying reporter Una Brankin as she covered both the service at St Matthias Church of Ireland, and the church's breakaway "missional congregation" led by Rev Alan Kilpatrick in Craigavon.
On Sunday, Rev Kilpatrick's followers worshipped in a sports and social club.
The congregations split after Rev Kilpatrick became embroiled in a row over his style of ministry, with some church members supporting his modern style of worship, while others preferred a more traditional approach.
"If you post a photograph of me in the paper, I'll sue you, there's a lot of hurt over what yous (sic) are writing... I'll sue you both!" Rev Conway said as he left the church.
The furious minister then took a grip of soaked Kevin's right arm and refused to let go until the photographer gave him three warnings and pointed out he was on public ground.
After the Belfast Telegraph made several attempts to contact the elderly clergyman yesterday, Rev Conway issued a one-sentence apology via the Church of Ireland Press office. "On reflection, I would like to express my regret for over-reacting to Press attention after the service in Knocknamuckley Parish yesterday, and to apologise to the photographer and journalist involved," said Rev Conway.
Following his statement, this paper tried to contact the minister to see if he would be willing to make a face-to-face apology. He had not replied at time of going to press.
The rift at the Co Armagh parish erupted over Rev Kilpatrick's so-called 'happy clappy' services and claims he has links with an American revivalist group, the Bethel school of Supernatural Ministries.
Rev Kilpatrick (47) has also been criticised for his unconventional style of dress during services, and a ban on the Royal Black Preceptory from using the church. The break became official late last month as the congregation divided in two, with the blessing of Bishop Harold Miller.