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Beliefnet News

Villagers try to oust evangelical woman pastor from historic church

“The peace of a bucolic East Anglian village has been shattered by a fierce campaign by residents to oust their female vicar,” reports Jonathan Wynne-Jones, a religious affairs correspondent for the Telegraph, a British daily newspaper.

To the outside world, the part-time assignment of Rev. Lorna Smith as Anglican priest at the 12th century St. Nicholas Church in Trillingham, would appear idyllic, observes Wynne-Jones:

But she has found herself at the center of a row which could be taken straight from the Vicar of Dibley, and which has divided a community where the only comparable drama was the filming of a “Doctor Who” episode nearby in 1972.

In one camp are the more than 300 locals who have signed a petition to have her removed over a string of grievances.


On the other side are her supporters in the congregation — not to mention the local bishop, who last week turned down the petitioners flat and said Mrs. Smith was staying put.

The final straw in the increasingly bitter divide between Mrs. Smith’s backers and her critics was her decision to remove the Victorian pews from the church and replace them with plastic chairs.

The plan led to clash between the residents who are traditional in their thinking and Mrs. Smith, who is from an evangelical background.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Sounds like a huge disagreement between the supporters and those against her staying. Why would she remove the pews and replace them with plastic chairs?? But the idea of a bathroom and heated floors seems like a good idea to me. But then there are complaints about her not doing some traditional services etc. Guess it will be settled by the church powers that be—as they have said she is to stay.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Allan

    I left the Episcopal Church forty years ago because of this issue when our local parish priest forced a female curate on the parish (although, at the time it still was not allowed by the Episcopal Church). I am one who still holds that, however much they try, the Episcopal (Anglican) Church has never validly ordained a woman.

    I have little respect for the Roman Church, but I must say, John-Paul II was right on that issue.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    I have no problem with women priests. There are good ones and bad ones just like there are good men priests and there are bad ones.(of course in the RCC there seems to have been many, many criminal priests). Gender doesn’t have anything to do with how ministers/priests do their jobs.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Allan

    Women priests and pastors are okay if you want to play church, but you cannot ignore nearly two thousand years of the Holy Tradition, which has not allowed women in pastoral roles.

    The Mormon Church does not ordain women, but they could at any time. All it would take is a new revelation. Until other churches figure out how to get new revelations, they cannot validly ordain women.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Allan

    Obviously, from her name, Pagansister does not see the church as a divinely established institution. I do see it as such.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Allan: Places of worship were built by the followers of whatever faith they follow to worship/pray to/honor whatever divine being they happen to believe in.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Allan

    Yes, Sister, and this church was built by traditional Christians who wish to continue being Christians–not by some woman pretending to be a priest.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    Women are just as capable of leading a church as men—have had experience with several women ministers—all good.

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