On the surface calm appeared to be restored to Knocknamuckley Church of Ireland on Sunday morning after last week’s dousing of a press photographer with a bucket of water by a visiting minister.
Retired Canon John Moore, who led the 11am service, told the congregation that Rev Tom Conway had “stepped aside at this time” from Knocknamuckley CoI.
Canon Moore, who told the congregation he retired recently, named another cleric – Captain Scott McDonald – who would also be helping out at the troubled church after Scottish-born Rev Alan Kilpatrick’s modern-style of ministry split the congregation.
After countless meetings Rev Kilpatrick decided to set up a new missional congregation in Craigavon.
A large crowd attended St Matthias Church on Sunday with only a few pews empty at the front.
Large brown envelopes addressed to some parishioners were left in their usual seats containing information about the Bethel Ministries, a subject which Rev Kilpatrick is claimed to have brought to the fore.
During the service Canon Moore preached about how the congregation needed to pray to cope with the inevitable storms of life.
After the service, parishioners who did not want to be named said they “understood a very large crowd was attending the Craigavon service”.
“But they are only there to see the show and won’t stay,” one added.
Another lady parishioner added: “What you saw here today was Knocknamuckley back to normal, a proper Sunday service preaching about the word of God.
“We have had enough of the press and our church being splashed everywhere in the news. What happened last Sunday was terrible.
“It was out of character for the minister and the situation was handled badly from the start. I suppose hindsight is a great thing.
“We don’t want to see that happen again.”
However, one parishioner who agreed to be named, Malcolm Fulton, who has worshipped at Knocknamuckley CoI for more than 50 years, said: “The service today was Knocknamuckley all over, a minister preaching the word of God.”
He said he was saddened “so many people left the church because of what happened because we did not want to see the congregation split the way it is”. “Easter Sunday and him refusing to do the Black Service was the problem,” he added.
Rev Kilpatrick will officially leave Knocknamuckley on September 30.