The fourth week of protest against a minister at Ballynahinch Congregational Church was held yesterday before morning worship.
Protestors read out a solicitor’s letter claiming their 2012 meeting to remove the cleric from office was “properly convened and conducted”.
Church trustee, George McClenaghan, 71, said: “There was a protest in the form that the solicitor’s letter, which we were not allowed to read out last Sunday, a letter from our solicitors stating that the trustees were all valid and the meeting convened on July 27 2012 was properly convened and conducted.”
Mr McClenaghan, who has attended the Co Down church for more than 50 years, said the letter referred to the meeting in which Rev George Speers and two others were removed from office.
“The letter also referred to how George Speers’ challenge to the validity of the trustees meeting on that date will not hold,” he added. “Then 60 plus people walked out of the church and held their own meeting.
“There was no noise from George Speers’ supporters this time and he did not enter into the church until after the letter had been read,” he said. “He would have been forewarned. We did not wish to interrupt the service and then we went out of the main sanctuary and into one of the minor halls and had our own meeting there.”
For a fourth week in a row there was a police presence at the church. Yesterday the News Letter left a message on Rev Speers’ answer phone requesting he contact us, but he declined to respond.
Mr McClenaghan said after walking out of the church “no further decisions have been taken other than we will continue to protest”.
“I would imagine around 20 supporters of his [Rev Speers] remained after we left along with others he brought in from Banbridge, Rathcoole and Belfast,” he said. “Last Sunday there were around 30 of them but there were not as many this week.
“We do have a minister in the pulpit who should not be there. He was voted out and got his P45 and P60.
“Over the last two years the majority of the congregation have been reasonably quiet and silent and the truth has not got out to the general public.”
The dispute, over a number of issues including Biblical teachings, has been simmering for a number of years but tensions came to a head earlier this month.
A PSNI spokesman said there was a police presence at Ballynahinch Congregational Church this weekend. “Church services were entirely orderly,” he added.