A Vicar embroiled in a bitter feud with his congregation over his 'happy-clappy' services has gone on leave for four months.*flounce!* 'Take that, you, you....meanies!'
The Rev Jerry Bird yesterday announced he was taking the 'time to seek God' after his entire 18-strong choir quit --leaving no one to sing any carols.
Resentment against him has become so acute that parishioners claim attendance has fallen by more than half.Nothing like a little Christmas cheer and charity. And yes, that’s nothing like a little Christmas cheer and charity!
So, what’s their beef with this chap?
A letter was sent this month to the Bishop of Exeter from 129 members of the congregation who are 'deeply concerned' with the situation.Oh dear...
They wrote: 'We have long been aware of the incumbent's apparent contempt for anyone who does not share his views, and what seems to us his consistent disregard for any advice given by the Diocesan authorities, the congregation or the mediators.
'We find it intolerable that, despite all efforts to promote healing and reconciliation in the parish, Mr Bird seems determined to have his own way at almost any cost.
'It seems therefore obvious to us that he is the main obstacle to reconciliation and the restoration of unity in the church.'
The group has not received a reply to their letter.Well, that’s bound to make things better, isn’t it!
Churchgoer Desmond Pike said: 'Rev Bird has split the church and in my view is a very poor parish priest. He seems to operate a very divisive policy and treads a path of introducing contentious issues in a high-handed way without any thought to the hurt that may be caused.'Sounds like this chap is utterly wasted in the Church – he’d be a shoe-in for a Parliamentary seat though!
Another churchgoer said: 'We are no further forward, in fact we have gone backwards. Jerry Bird should be the first to apologise. It would be a significant first move. He has never done anything to say he is sorry.
'He blames everybody else for name calling. He has deliberately pursued a policy of alienating 50 per cent of the church.
'The Bishop seems to be saying 'I cannot sack him because he has not committed a criminal offence and I cannot tell these people who don't want him there, to leave the church'.'
The objectors have produced a parish profile report showing the differences from when Rev Bird became their vicar to the present day.If your vicar no longer embodies the qualities you want in a vicar, or indeed a church, then people are simply no longer prepared to put up with it, and will campaign against him. Welcome to the 21st century and the customer complaints procedure!
They claim it has gone from an 'active, thriving parish church' into a 'floundering and divided church' which is not involved in local activities like it used to be.