A minister in the Church of England who, according to members of his congregation, has revitalized All Saints Brankscome Church, is being ordered to leave his church as well as his home before the end of July.
It’s because he sang a hymn without a COVID face mask, hugged a mourner at a funeral, returned some Bibles to the church after they had been removed because they could be “touched,” and conducted an online service to try to engage with children during the pandemic.
Christian Concern reported the dispute involves Rev. Charlie Boyle, 52, who is being supported by the Christian Legal Center in his fight to keep his job, and his home, which he shares with his wife and four young children.
Boyle has an exemption from mask requirements due to asthma.
But it was after the Easter Sunday service, and a complaint about him not wearing a mask while singing, that Antony Macros-Wood, the archdeacon of Dorset, went to Boyle’s home and told him to clear out.
That was followed by a letter from Macros-Wood detailing a list of allegations and a threat of a Clergy Discipline Measure case.
Christian Concern explained, “Throughout the pandemic, the government has given guidance, backed by the Church of England, that has resulted in police storming places of worship and shutting down services. Church leaders were at one point even curtailed from praying in church buildings.”
The campaign by the archdeacon also has been joined by Nicholas Holtam, the bishop of Salisbury, who claimed there appears to be “substance and seriousness” for the complaint.
Christian Concern reported members of Boyle’s congregation have supported him, with one crediting the minister with a new “vibrancy” to the church, as well as a “younger congregation” whose members “have embraced the church wholeheartedly.”
But “aggressive and intimidating emails and calls” have continued to badger Boyle, the report said.
In a statement released by his legal team, Boyle explained:
I am not going to give up on my calling just because I sang “Thine Be The Glory” on Easter Sunday in church without a mask.
“Furthermore, I am shocked that one of the allegations against me is that I brought Bibles into a church.
“During the pandemic, due to government guidance, churches and their congregations have become places of division and fear instead of the places of prayer, refuge, worship, outreach and hope they should be.
“We must all take precautions of course, but we also have to ask the question of what Jesus would do in such a crisis?
“Churches have been forced to capitulate to government and Church of England guidance and have been prevented from supporting their communities in the biggest crisis since the war.
“I have done everything possible to reassure and protect people’s material, emotional and spiritual well-being.
“People are desperate, fearful and very cautious. What they miss most is singing in church and worshiping their God.
Boyle is a former lawyer and councilor who studied at Cambridge.
Andrea Williams chief of the Christian Legal Center, warned, “It cannot be right for a passionate Christian leader who has inspired his community and brought young people into the church to be bullied out of his job on the basis of what appear to be farcical allegations.”
Williams said the case should be dropped.
“This is a crucial moment as churches prepare to emerge from this pandemic. 65% of churches across the country do not have children as part of their congregations. Yet here you have a leader seeking to find ways to reach young families with the gospel being chastised and bullied for doing so. Charlie Boyle is a faithful servant of Jesus Christ who has taken all reasonable precautions and guidance to protect his congregation.”
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