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 in their bid to remove the current minister and his team.
The trustees of the church, who oppose the Rev Speers’ ministry, said the protests and ongoing tension in the church show how the situation has led the congregation to “breaking point”.
The years-long feud saw a loud protest two weeks ago where the Rev Speers used a megaphone to preach his sermon over the chants of ‘Get out’ while he was on the pulpit.
At last weekend’s service there was a walkout of more than 60 people as the opposition again made clear their disapproval of Rev Speers and his teachings.
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.
In a statement last week Rev Speers said accusations made against him are false but, in their latest comment on the matter, the Trustees challenged him to “elaborate” on this and said it was the minister’s “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: “Those reading this statement should be in no doubt of our determination to continue in our struggle to remove the ministerial team.”