Norfolk vicar resigns after internet campaign
A Norfolk vicar has resigned his post as Rector of the Chet Valley benefice due to a ”campaign focused on a matter from his past” despite support from parishioners and his family.
In a statement released by the Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Revd Alan Winton, he said: “The Rev William Stewart has in recent months been the subject of a campaign focused on a matter from his past. A number of parishioners have been supportive of him and his family but he has increasingly felt that under the present circumstances he is no longer able to continue his ministry.
”In appointing William Stewart, the Diocese followed the normal procedure of seeking assurance from the Church of Ireland that he was a priest in good standing, and a CRB check was made and returned clear. On this basis he was offered the post of Rector of the Chet Valley Benefice in good faith.
”When information about William was posted on the internet, the Diocese consulted Norfolk Police. The advice they gave was that the offence was not against a child or vulnerable adult and they therefore regarded the matter as a diocesan responsibility to manage in accordance with its normal procedures.
”William Stewart made an excellent start in his new ministry. However as a result of the information published on the internet, he has increasingly found the strain on him and his family to be too much, and has tended his resignation. We are continuing to support both William Stewart and his family, and the Benefice of the Chet Valley.”
Tribute has been paid to Rev Stewart and his wife Ruth in the most recent Chet Valley Benefice newsletter, praising his “ministry, stimulating preaching, pastoral care and good humour.”
Rev Stewart's last service was on November 4 and the Rev Robert Parsonage, Rural Dean of Loddon, will be working with the churchwardens and ministerial colleagues in the benefice during the vacancy, offering his support and leadership. Services and other activities will continue as advertised.
Pictured above is Rev William Stewart at his induction, with the Bishop of Norwich.
Read our previous story on this topic.