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Anglican - Lodge rift deepens as Priest quits parish over Freemasonry

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Isle of Man Today


01 June 2005

THE Reverend Gordon Barker has resigned from his post as priest-in-charge of Lezayre following 'hurt' and controversy within the parish.

The differences of opinion between him and the people of the parish were raised back in November last year when he ruled that ministers and readers who were masons would not be allowed to serve in the parish.

He later overturned the ruling and apologised for the 'hurt' he had caused.

But it seems the issue is behind Reverend Barker's resignation.

He said: 'There is much hurt around, yet it is important to make clear that the root cause of the position we have now reached is Freemasonry, and my attitude to it, guided as I am by Scripture, pastoral concern, and the expressed view of the Church of England General Synod.'

After discussions with all the relevant parties, it has been agreed he will concentrate his ministry on the parishes of Andreas and Jurby, while Lezayre, for the immediate future, will be placed under the care of the Rural Dean, the Reverend David Green.

Lord Bishop Graeme Knowles said: 'It was clear to me that the differences of opinion and principle that existed between the priest and people in the parish of Lezayre were not to be easily reconciled. The situation was becoming destructive of Mr Barker's ministry and many members of the three congregations which make up the parish (Kirk Christ, Sulby and Glen Auldyn) were feeling that pastoral growth would be impossible while such divisions existed.

'It is always sad when pastoral relationships break down. All parties must bear some responsibility for the present situation, and, in the circumstances, I felt it was in the best interests of all concerned to mediate.

'In this way Mr Barker's ministry in the other two parishes can continue to grow and develop and alternative pastoral oversight can be found for Lezayre.'

Kirk Christ, Lezayre has suffered a troubled time recently.

It is due to celebrate its 170th anniversary this year but was without a vicar for over two years until the appointment of Mr Barker, who became responsible for Lezayre, Andreas and Jurby last year.

At the recent annual meeting church members heard it had a bleak future and it may have to close.

Mr Barker said at that time the options he had been given for Kirk Christ by the Bishop included closure and deconsecration, use as an arts centre or to turn it into a social venue.

He said some of the proposals were 'quite shocking and ridiculous'.

Mr Barker's resignation as priest-in-charge of Lezayre will take effect from June 6.

No further comment will be made by any of the parties.

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