Members of the board of Green Pastures 'megachurch' in Ballymena have dramatically announced their resignation following weeks of turmoil.
It comes after the resignation of lead pastor Jeff Wright and eight members of the Church's 'Executive Team' in recent weeks. A review was also launched into complaints against Mr Wright from Church members.
According to an email from the board of the Church they were told that Mr Wright had informed Church members that the Church property was to be sold and contracts would soon be signed.
Then, a group of Church members calling themselves 'Green Pastures Peoples' Voices' emailed other parishioners calling for a meeting with the board, demanding "truth and transparency" over recent events.
An internal investigation was subsequently launched by the Green Pastures board into a 'GDPR breach' regarding "unsolicited emails" sent to members.
The Charity Commission is also investigating after a "concern" was raised regarding the Church.
Now, in the latest twist in the saga, in an email to Church members, the board has announced their intention to resign after receiving "abusive" and "threatening" emails.
"Over recent months, the board of Green Pastures Church has been navigating a very challenging situation. Having acted in good faith throughout, the board has prayerfully sought to ensure that Green Pastures Church can continue its ministry while operating with the principles of good governance," the email reads.
"Given the scale of the challenges and our legal responsibilities, we have kept the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland fully informed of the situation throughout as well as other relevant authorities.
"In recent weeks, several board members have received a number of unfortunate messages which have been abusive and at times threatening. This has been deeply disappointing."
The board stressed that the emails in question "have not come from Mr Wright" and that any messages received by them are the "sole responsibility of the individuals who sent them".
"Having reflected on our concern about the current situation, the board has consulted with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and informed the commission of our intention to resign," the email continues.
It is understood that, while the review into complaints against Mr Wright was ongoing, he was suspended, however he then resumed carrying out meetings with Church members. This prompted further complaints against him and the resignation of the Church's 'executive team'.
In an email from the board to Church members regarding the review earlier this month, the board said it related to "alleged behaviours by Ps Jeff Wright which have purportedly had a detrimental and significant impact on the mental and spiritual well-being of those staff".
"This review is being carried out by Trusted HR Limited who are an independent firm with expertise in this area and who have no connection either to the Church or the board. The board await the outcome of this review,” the board said.
“At this stage the board do not believe that the complaints give rise to moral or financial failures on the part of Ps Jeff Wright. Rather we understand that they mostly centre around issues relating to the style of leadership adopted by Ps Jeff Wright.
“The board has communicated with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland in respect of the complaints received and the process that has been instigated. The Charity Commission has advised that the board has acted in accordance with the principles of good governance and has endorsed the actions taken to date.”
The Church is linked to coachbuilder Wrightbus. Jeff Wright was once a director of the company and, when Green Pastures was established in 2007, it was situated at a site next to the Wrightbus factory near Galgorm.
It later moved to a huge, 97-acre plot of land on the outskirts of Ballymena. The site in question was once valued at £75m, but was sold to the Church for a reported £4m.
Green Pastures has been contacted for comment.
Mr Wright was not available for comment.