I’ve commented a number of times about the ongoing difficulties in Trumpington – we now have the results of the tribunal, a recommendation that Tom Ambrose be removed as vicar of the parish.
Not surprisingly this has provoked some discussion. Dave Walker has posted an item about it, including a quote from the comment section of Ruth Gledhill’s posting on the subject, which although it seems to have gone vaguely tabloid in the title, is a good read, especially when you get to a couple of the witness statements.
The more you read about the result though, the more it seems incredibly unfair to Tom Ambrose. The disagreement is with a small group on the PCC, and outside of this, the parish seems to have been getting on pretty well. We will have to wait to see the full ruling, but it is interesting to note the wording of the statement that has been published. The tribunal states that they are:
â€œunited in being satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that serious pastoral breakdown has occurred in Trumpington parishâ€?
â€œWe do not consider that the serious pastoral breakdown in Trumpington parish can be remedied if Dr Ambrose remains as the vicar there.â€?
Note that nowhere does it make any statements about various of the accusations – the tribunal has merely agreed that a pastoral breakdown has occurred. To resolve that, either the PCC members that are causing the trouble have to go, or Dr Ambrose – and the tribunal is rightly or wrongly recommending Tom Ambrose is being sacked, rather than the removal of the PCC members.
When I read the statements on Ruth Gledhill’s posting, there were several things that stood out. Firstly that the previous incumbent had problems from the same group of PCC members. Then there was this statement:
As a result I have stopped going to the PCC meetings since I was always in a minority surrounded by the majority of harridans.
This hostile group controlling the PCC does not reflect in any sense the congregation of Trumpington Church. Many people tell me as a member of the PCC, when they learn of the difficulties being caused for Tom and Gill that the PCC no longer represents them.
Considering this statement, you need to bear in mind that all of the PCC members are elected by the congregation – if they aren’t representative, who has been electing them? I’m reminded of this quote:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
It seems to me that this is largely what has happened. The rest of the congregation, rather than using their voting powers at the APCM to get rid of the group on the PCC, have stuck their heads in the sand and ignored what has been going on, and those that have been elected to the PCC haven’t fought for their vicar – as a result, they’re now facing his removal.
However much he wanted to fight for his position, I do think that Tom Ambrose should have just resigned from the post, as I can’t see how the Church can resolve the pastoral breakdown in any other way than to remove him – it’s a lot easier to remove one priest, who lest we not forget lives in a house that comes with the job, than multiple PCC members who will all still be living in the parish anyway – leaving the remains of the problem still there, even if those involved no longer have any power.
After this, I’d be amazed if anyone in their right mind applies for the vacancy in Trumpington when it comes up now. Effectively that one group on the PCC has now made their parish a no-go zone – the growth that has come in spite of their efforts will most surely die when Ambrose is removed, and with nobody willing to take on the parish, the remains will struggle to survive too. Ultimately it’s a pyrrhic victory, nobody will really come out as the winner, and the biggest losers will be the people of Trumpington themselves.