Police were again present yesterday as observers at morning worship in the Co Down church where there have been unprecedented protests against the minister.
For a third week in a row, the PSNI were present at Ballynahinch Congregational Church as a section of the congregation rose and left the building shortly after the service began at 11.30am.
They reconvened for their own meeting in the nearby Orange hall to discuss the situation.
Prior to yesterday’s service, one of the church trustees, Samuel Graham, said that there would “definitely” be a protest at yesterday’s service and he also promised another, unspecified, “very visual” protest.
That appeared to be a banner which has appeared on a gable wall on Windmill Street in the town centre.
The banner contains a Bible verse – Jeremiah chapter 23 verse one – in which the prophet rails against pastors who “destroy and scatter” the Children of Israel.
The Rev Speers, who has said little in public since the protests began, yesterday did not return a phone call from the News Letter asking about the banner.
Several of those in positions of leadership at the church either did not answer phone calls yesterday or declined to comment when contacted.
Billy Hamilton, who is listed on the church website as being responsible for the church bulletin, said that he had not been at church yesterday morning.
When asked whether that was because he was unable to be there or whether he had stopped attending the church, he said: “It’s none of your business where I go.”
Last week a life-long member of another Congregational church wrote to the News Letter appealing for an end to scenes which he said brought “shame” on Christianity.
The individual, who asked not to be named, said: “It is sad and heartbreaking to see the display of godless, carnal, unscriptural, unChristlike behaviour displayed in Ballynahinch Congregational Church.
“Scenes of wickedness and evil intent presented in the media are to be condemned by all true Christians and, indeed, all Congregationalists. There appears to be no evidence of saving grace or the mind of Christ in this vitriolic and vicious behaviour.”
Elsewhere in Ballynahinch yesterday, the town remembered the three generations of the Spence family killed in last year’s farming tragedy.
A year after Noel, Graham and Nevin Spence died in the slurry pit tragedy, a service was held in their church, Ballynahinch Baptist.