Bishop, judge and paper urge Norfolk church to resolve row
A Bishop, a retired High Court judge and now a local newspaper have urged a Norfolk church community to work together in reconciliation to resolve their differences. Keith Morris reports.
A long-running dispute between church members and the Rev Catherine Relf-Pennington, vicar at Wymondham Abbey, which was the subject of an investigation by a retired High Court judge last year, has now been reported on by the EDP.
Of 19 allegations investigated by the Diocese of Norwich including bullying, 13 were made by members of the choir and all have been strongly denied by Rev Relf-Pennington, the abbey’s first female vicar, and church wardens.
In November last year, former High Court judge Sir Mark Hedley wrote a report into the complaints for the Church of England's Clergy Discipline Commission. He described "fear, resentment and unhappiness" at the abbey and condemns the ongoing dispute as a "disgrace to the Christian community". He called on both sides to reconcile their differences.
The message was echoed by the Rt Rev Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, who said: "The Church of England takes complaints about its clergy very seriously and seeks where possible to find ways in which a community and its priest can come together and move forward.
"I urge all involved at Wymondham Abbey to find ways to demonstrate the love and grace of Christ to one another and to work together in healing hurts and divisions."
And today the EDP, which has reported extensively on the row, said in its leader column: “One does not have to thumb through too many pages of the Bible to find messages about forgiveness, patience and turning the other cheek. The time has now come for people within the Abbey community – on both sides – to let bygones be bygones and start acting more like a community.
“So many people have relied on the Abbey and the Church in general over the years to provide their faith, sense of goodwill and community values. For this to be undermined by persistent pettiness – from all parties involved – does the exact opposite of what the religion has always set out to do. Time to let this squabble die.”
Read more on EDP24
Pictured above is Wymondham Abbey vicar, Rev Catherine Relf-Pennington. Picture by Wymondham Abbey