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Parish bullies

The BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme carried an item with this title.

Parish bullies
Earlier this week the Rev Tom Ambrose, Vicar of St Mary and St Michael Church at Trumpington, was ordered to leave his post by the Bishop of Ely. The Bishop wrote “I am astonished and dismayed that there are two recorded occasions on which it is said that Dr Ambrose spat at parishioners, allegations which were not challenged in cross examination”.

But, according to the General Secretary of the trade union Unite, Rachel Maskell, it is often clergy who are being victimised by their parishioners, and she claims that the church, its structures and its Bishops don’t help their priests. Rachel Maskell joined Sunday along with one of those Bishops, John Packer, Bishop of Leeds and Ripon, who chairs the committee of the Archbishops’ Council which deals with clergy conditions of service.

Listen (7m 29s)

See also these media reports:

BBC Clergy ‘bullied by parishioners’

Religious Intelligence Trade Union claims parishioners are bullying clergy

Independent Union accuses bishops of failing to help bullied vicars and a leading article: Unholy rows

Cambridge Evening News Vicar backs attack on ‘disloyal’ bishops

Here are some links to earlier articles on this topic:

December 2006 Ruth Gledhill Evil-minded parishioners making life hell for clergy

February 2007 Rachel Harden What price priesthood?

May 2007 Ruth Gledhill The parishioners who won’t spend a penny

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I have seen bullying go both ways. One poor priest would have a sermon that could be construed as affirming principles dear to me but dismissed as unimportant by “established” parishioners. The poor priest would then be given biblical insights and in a later speech shortly thereafter justify why certain parts of the bible and its missives were no longer relevant. For some, the complete fulfillment of Jesus as God in its entirety means we no longer have to study the Old Testament, or only in the context of affirming Jesus as Jesus was manifested. For example, since Jesus manifested… Read more »