Those involved in an extraordinary protest at Ballynahinch Congregational Church which saw police called to deal with disruption have accepted their actions that Sunday were “wrong” but vowed to continue their bid to remove the minister and his team.
Trustees of the church who oppose the Rev George Speers’ ministry said the protests and ongoing tension in the church show how the situation has led the congregation to “breaking point”.
At the heart of the disagreement is the teaching within the church and the trustees insist that it is “simply false” to say that Rev Speers has kept to the principles and practices of Congregationalism.
The trustees’ statement read: “The protests on Sunday, September 1, were wrong but they do give a clear indication that the refusal of George Speers to allow discussion and a process of mediation has led a congregation to breaking point.”
In a statement last week the Rev Speers said accusations made against him are false but, in their latest comment on the matter, the trustees challenged him to give details of his claim. As the row continued in public, they said: “George Speers would need to elaborate on what allegations made against him are false but it is his failure to allow discussions within the church that has led to them being discussed in public.”
While the trustees have also agreed to mediation hosted by the Congregational Union of Ireland, the Rev Speers has yet to reply to the offer, although the News Letter understands that he does not intend to engage with such a move.
He said previous attempts to resolve the dispute have been unsuccessful.
“I have attempted to bring about a resolution through the use of internal church structures,” he said.
“I have also engaged in joint talks facilitated by third parties. Sadly, a resolution accorded with Biblical principles could not be found.”
In reply, the trustees have said: “At least four offers of mediation have been made, all of which have been rejected by George Speers.”
“The trustees would once again challenge George Speers to join with them in seeking a solution through mediation.
“The trustees have already accepted the recent offer of mediation through the Congregational Union of Ireland and await a response from George Speers.
“Those reading this statement should be in no doubt of our determination to continue in our struggle to remove the ministerial team.”