Rev George Speers held his silence for five days last week after the row broke, before he issued a statement defending himself.
He had first served with the church for several years as an assistant in the 1990s at Ballynahinch Congregational Church and was called as the main pastor in 2003. Even his critics say that they had enjoyed good relations with him until three years ago.
Last week he said that since 2003 he had fulfilled his calling “in accordance with the teachings and doctrines of Scripture and have adhered to the principles and practices of Congregationalism”.
He added: “I will not be deterred from preaching the Gospel by the illegal actions of a group of protestors. By their actions they have violated all that Scripture teaches about worship and have denied others the fundamental liberty to worship without interference.
“I have attempted to bring about a resolution through the use of internal church structures. I have also engaged in joint talks facilitated by third parties. Sadly, a resolution accorded with Biblical principles could not be found.
“The accusations which have been made against me are false. In accordance with the broad teachings of the Word of God however, I am unable and therefore unwilling to discuss the internal affairs of the church in the public domain.”
He said he had been “greatly encouraged by the messages of support given to me by members of my congregation, ministers from various denominations and members of the general public”.
“In obedience to God’s will and with His help I intend to continue to fulfil my calling as minister of Ballynahinch Congregational Church.”
In response, seven representatives of the church said they partially rejected the statement from Rev Speers, whom they claim has been lawfully voted out of office.
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.”
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 has halved from 200 to 100 members.