Both Church Society’s ‘full’ report about my husband and I and the ‘Executive Summary’ contain the false accusation of my husband’s supposed ‘inability to work with people’. This accusation comes from a letter written about my husband ‘to the Bishop of Derby (copying in the Archdeacon of Derby, the Bishop of Maidstone, and the Director of Church Society)’. This is a public accusation, yet my husband and I have never been allowed to see the names of the signatories – so to us at least, it is an anonymous letter. We do know, however, that the letter contained the signatures of people who had never met my husband and also that some people were bullied and pressured to sign.
This accusation of inability to work with people is demonstrably untrue, both in terms of paid and unpaid people in the church. During my husband’s time as vicar, he has usually had one or at most two other paid colleagues in pastoral roles. Colleagues have included an assistant minister who stayed for 6 years, the final 3 of them when my husband arrived; a youth worker who stayed for 7-8 years and became an assistant minister; another youth worker who stayed for 3 years; a curate who stayed for 3 years; a parish administrator who stayed for over 5 years; another parish administrator who stayed for over 5 years; and the current parish administrator whose first few years were with my husband before he went on pastoral leave.
In terms of those are unpaid, two Readers have worked long term with my husband – one was already here when my husband arrived and the other came shortly after his arrival but remained as a Reader until her death a couple of years ago. A retired clergyman has been working at St. Peter’s and St. Giles with my husband since shortly after my husband’s arrival and he is still working in the parish now. We have had the same Treasurer throughout my husband’s time as vicar. We have had the same organist throughout my husband’s time as vicar and many of the same other musicians. The same person has cleaned the church and done the teas and coffees throughout. Several men have been on the preaching and leading team throughout my husband’s time and have undertaken training course with him. A number of people have served full terms on the PCC whilst my husband has chaired and then, having taken a year or so out, they have come back onto the PCC again. In fact, the Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, had to make the suggestion that longstanding members of the PCC should be willing to take a break from being on the Church Council.
It is worth noting that my husband’s predecessor resigned ill, but quickly got better once he was no longer vicar. He was happy to continue to work with my husband and preach in the church on a regular basis (but without having to deal with the politics in church) until he moved to another paid role in a different part of the country.
I can provide more information, but I hope that this demonstrates that the charge “inability to work with people” is a false one. It shows the unreliability of information provided by Church Society, raising questions as to why they would publish and circulate a false narrative.