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Ballynahinch church row: Text message told me to ‘burn in hell’ says trustee

Members of Ballynahinch Congregational Church leave after a service in September.

Members of Ballynahinch Congregational Church leave after a service in September.

A trustee of a Co Down church divided by a bitter row says he has been sent a text message telling him to “burn in hell”.

The church has split into two factions, with one side claiming they have voted the minister out, while the others believe he should stay.

In September, police had to be called in to keep the peace during a service.

Sammy Graham, a leading trustee at Ballynahinch Congregational Church, told the News Letter yesterday that he had got the anonymous text message about a month ago, but had only gone public with it now.

And, in a separate incident, police confirmed they received a report of a man “having made comments which were felt to be intimidatory at the church” on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, another trustee, Jim Clenaghan, said there were up to 70 protestors outside the church on Sunday as those loyal to the minister, Rev George Speers, entered the building.

Those who wish Rev Speers to leave are currently holding a Sunday morning service in the church hall at the same time as the main service.

“There is no real exchange between the two parties, except maybe for some pleasantries,” said Mr Clenaghan.

He said 54 people attended the main church service on Sunday and up to 110 met in the church hall.

Mr Clenaghan also claimed that some of the protestors had suffered slashed tyres. The PSNI said they received a report on September 25 that tyres of four vehicles in Dromore Street had been damaged on September 18.

 

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