Seven representatives of Ballynahinch Congregational Church last night partially rejected a statement issued by the minister they say they have voted out of office.
Trustees in the church say tensions have been building in the church over the past three years, since the Rev George Speers, they say, dismissed the governing body of deacons and replaced them with elders consisting of himself and his two assistant pastors. The trustees say the congregation has since voted for the minister to leave.
The exchange comes after extraordinary scenes last Sunday when police were required to keep order during the two services while the minister at one point reportedly used a megaphone.
After reading the Rev Speers’ first public press statement on the row last night, seven members of the church who are opposed to him told the News Letter they did not fully accept his version of events. They said: “We, the representatives of Ballynahinch Congregational Church, do not accept all that the former minister, George Speers, has released in his press statement. We shall respond in detail, in due course, with a more detailed release on behalf of the majority of the congregation who support the church.
“In the meantime we understand the News Letter has been made aware that the former minister, George Speers, has yet again rejected the offer of mediation from the Congregational Union of Ireland.”
According to trustees they have been involved in some five offers of mediation to the Rev Speers. They claim he enjoys the support of only 25 per cent of the congregation and that offerings have dropped from £175,000 to £25,000 as membership halved from 200 to 100 members.