Rector drops age discrimination case
A church row that threatened to tear a parish apart has been defused after a rector pulled out of an age discrimination tribunal against the Church of Ireland.
The Rev John Hemphill had lodged a claim for age discrimination after being suspended from his ministry in 2009.
The decision split his parish with some parishioners backing the rector and others happy to see him leave.
Mr Hemphill was suspended a day after he reported more than £1,000 of missing church money to the police. The PSNI later investigated and dropped the case saying no crime was detected.
The popular rector ministered to congregations at St Andrews Church, Ballyhalbert, and Christ Church in Ardkeen, Co Down.
Portavogie man Stanley Drysdale says his church has suffered since the Rev Hemphill left.
He said: “I would definitely want him reinstated. The church has gone downhill since he left.”
Ards DUP councillor Robin Drysdale said: “I was hurt by the treatment he got.”
A Church of Ireland spokesman said: “We can confirm that the Rev John Hemphill yesterday withdrew his industrial tribunal claim alleging age discrimination, the day before the hearing was due to commence.
“His claim followed his suspension from ministry and a formal complaint by the Archdeacon of Down to the Church of Ireland’s Complaints Committee in respect of his behaviour towards individual parishioners. Mr Hemphill has now accepted a severe admonition from the committee.”