Club asks flock to find new place for Sunday worship

The break-away congregation from St Matthias Church, Knocknamuckley, have been asked to find an alternative venue to Goodyear Social Club.

The flock, who had been congregating at the bar for the past two Sunday mornings to worship with Rev Alan Kilpatrick, were asked to find an new place to pray.

A spokesman for Goodyear Social Club said: “We are a cross-community organisation but did not feel it appropriate to have 120 people coming to worship in what is a bar. We therefore asked them to find an alternative venue.”

A Diocese of Down and Dromore Church of Ireland spokesperson said: “The arrangement with the Goodyear Sports Centre was always a temporary one and next week the missional congregation will meet in Craigavon Civic Centre. This is also a temporary arrangement.”

Difficulties between two factions at St Matthias Parish Church, Knocknamuckley, arose after some members of the congregation were uncomfortable with Rev Alan Kilpatrick’s style of worship.

Rev Kilpatrick was then given permission by Down and Connor Bishop Harold Miller to conduct his style of service at Goodyear Sports and Social Club, with around 100 supporters from Knocknamuckley forming a congregation.

His services have been held this past two Sundays at the Goodyear Club.

Meanwhile calm appeared to be restored at St Matthias Parish Church on Sunday morning after last week’s dousing of a press photographer with a bucket of water by a visiting minister.

Retired Canon John Moore, who led the 11am service, told the congregation that Rev Tom Conway had “stepped aside at this time” from Knocknamuckley Church of Ireland.

Canon Moore, the retired Rector of Holy Trinity in Waringstown, named another cleric – Captain Scott McDonald – who would also be helping out at the troubled church.

Large brown envelopes addressed to some parishioners were left in their usual seats containing information about the Bethel Ministries, a subject which Rev Kilpatrick is claimed to have brought to the fore.

During the service Canon Moore preached about how the congregation needed to pray to cope with the inevitable storms of life.

Another lady parishioner added: “What you saw here today was Knocknamuckley back to normal, a proper Sunday service preaching about the word of God.

“We have had enough of the press and our church being splashed everywhere in the news. What happened last Sunday was terrible.

“It was out of character for the minister and the situation was handled badly from the start. I suppose hindsight is a great thing.

“We don’t want to see that happen again.”

However, one parishioner who agreed to be named, Malcolm Fulton, who has worshipped at Knocknamuckley CoI for more than 50 years, said: “The service today was Knocknamuckley all over, a minister preaching the word of God.”

He said he was saddened “so many people left the church because of what happened because we did not want to see the congregation split the way it is”.

He added: “Easter Sunday and him refusing to do the Black Service was the problem.”

Rev Kilpatrick will officially leave Knocknamuckley on September 30.