Parishioners at Knocknamuckley Church of Ireland have told of their relief after their controversial minister, Rev Alan Kilpatrick, handed in his written resignation.
The row at rural St Matthias’s Church saw Scottish-born Rev Kilpatrick step down in May.
He made the decision after a series of meetings were held by churchgoers who were divided over his style of ministry, which involved him only rarely donning traditional robes or preaching from the pulpit.
Following his departure, the congregation was split into two groups – one remaining in St Matthias Church, and a new missional congregation formed by Rev Kilpatrick.
After meeting in accommodation in Craigavon for several months, the missional congregation has found a new temporary home in a farm building in Bleary.
A Church of Ireland spokesman said: “The Revd Alan Kilpatrick has completed a Resignation of Benefice form, saying that he will be resigning from the incumbency of Knocknamuckley on September 30, 2015.
“This means that the parish will be vacant on October 1, 2015. Until the parish is vacant, its representatives are not in a position to look for a new minister, and when it becomes vacant they will have to work through the usual processes.”
His resignation came days after concerned parishioners penned a letter to senior figures in the Church of Ireland voicing their concern that Rev Kilpatrick had not offered a written letter of resignation, among other issues.
A long-standing member of Knocknamuckley Church said news of Rev Kilpatrick’s resignation “means we can start to build bridges”.
He said there was concern that “because it [his resignation] was not in writing, he could rescind the offer”.
He added: “He has been in Knocknamuckley for around two years and within a short time concerns about his preaching were raised.