Congregation at troubled church splits into two

The Right Reverend Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore with Rev Alan Kilpatrick at his installation as rector of Knocknamuckley Parish Church. INLM46-107gc
The Right Reverend Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore with Rev Alan Kilpatrick at his installation as rector of Knocknamuckley Parish Church. INLM46-107gc

The controversial minister at Knocknamuckley Church of Ireland is to step down.

Church-goers at the rural church were divided over the style of ministry of Rev Alan Kilpatrick.

A statement from the Diocese of Down and Dromore regarding the Parish of Knocknamuckley, which was posted on their website on Wednesday night, said: “In the context of the sad divisions in Knocknamuckley Parish, an evening was held on Wednesday, May 27, when a group appointed by the bishop reported to the parishioners.

“Having looked at several possible options, the way forward involves two separate congregations, one in St Matthias Church and a new missional congregation meeting in Craigavon.

“Both of these will be under the authority of the bishop and diocese of Down and Dromore.

“These congregations will meet separately from next Sunday, May 31. The Revd Alan Kilpatrick will remain as incumbent until September 30, when he will step down as rector of Knocknamuckley and become minister–in–charge of the new missional congregation.”

The statement added that “in the months of June to September, while remaining rector, Alan Kilpatrick has agreed that the services in St. Matthias will be led by another clergyman and that alternative pastoral cover will be provided for those who require it”.

The statement added: “The bishop has announced that his working group on the theology of the Royal Black Preceptory and the theology of Bethel Church in Northern California, is to be chaired by Canon Dr Christina Baxter, CBE.

“He has asked for a continued period of ‘gracious provisional judgement’ while it carries out its work and for co–operation with the group.

“The bishop hopes that all parishioners of Knocknamuckley, no matter what their particular views, will participate with him in a time of prayer and fasting on a date soon to be announced and will come together with him to bless and pray for each other as they move into the future.”