09/09/2013

Ballynahinch Church Dispute Continues

Around 60 members of a Co Down church walked out of a Sunday service in protest against its minister.

A police presence was again in attendance at Ballynahinch Congregational Church for the second consecutive week, but unlike the previous Sunday, no violence broke out.

The angry dispute is over the position of the Reverend George Speers, with many of the congregation unhappy about his teachings and how he is leading the church.

Last week, police were called to the church after it received reports that one churchgoers was head-butted as a result of the violence. Yesterday, only two officers were on duty and they maintained a discreet presence while the service got underway.

However, within moments of the minister entering the room, around 60 people stood up and walked out of the service.

Mr Speers continued with the morning service as more than 80 people remained inside the church.

Samuel Graham, who identified himself as a trustee of the church, read a short statement on behalf of the protesters in the grounds of the building.

He said: "The scenes in our church last Sunday were something that we were disappointed with, but this was brought to us by a measure of frustration, and deep despair, to which the majority of peace-loving members had been brought down to."

The nature of a congregational church means that its members decide on the its direction and there is no ruling authority.

(JP/MH)

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