Reading through “Of Course I Could Be Wrong…” I came across this story taken from the Cambridge Evening News about the parish of St Mary and St Michael in Trumpington who are trying to take their vicar, Rev Tom Ambrose to an Ecclesiastical Tribunal claiming that there has been a pastoral breakdown in the parish.
Unfortunately the article is rather one sided, as nobody in the parish who is backing the tribunal calls would talk to the newspaper. However Rev Ambrose and his backers don’t seem to think they have done anything radical. He was appointed to modernise and update the Church, something he had done elsewhere. From what he has described he seems to be trying to welcome in more families, so he moved the Harvest Supper to a Saturday evening from a Friday, removed four pews from the back of the Church to provide space for coffee to be served after the service, and the move that apparently provoked massive outrage – proposed to put toilets in the Church!
When you realise that the legal fees alone for the proposed tribunal would cost Â£150,000, with the full cost after appeals heading towards Â£500,000 it all seems like a stunning waste of money, and quite why the situation has been allowed to get this far I really don’t know. Certainly taking a browse around their church website the only real indication that there is anything amiss is the fact that one of the Churchwardens also resides at the Vicarage.
Really, with the volume of adverse publicity that this is generating, somebody needs to do something. There have been articles on the BBC News, in the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and a classic bit of Ruth Gledhill drama in the Times:
For more than 700 years the parishioners of Trumpington have worshipped in their church while the great crises of the Christian faith have blown about them.
The Crusades claimed the life of one lord of the manor while the building was damaged by reforming zealots during the Reformation.
Nothing in their long history however has frightened the parishioners like the arrival at St Mary and St Michael of a modernising vicar.
In eight years of disturbing radicalism, the Rev Tom Ambrose has moved the harvest festival supper back a day and removed four pews to clear a space for coffee meetings.
When he suggested adding new lavatories for the ageing congregation, the guardians of tradition snapped.
The feedback section after the article also includes a number of comments backing Rev Ambrose, and certainly with the other messages of support locally the people backing the tribunal unwilling to discuss their grievances – citing sub-judice as their reason – it is seemingly like they are proposing to waste a vast amount of money over what appears to be an argument over toilets. Worse than that the Diocese of Ely seems quite happy to back them in this, rather than calling for restraint and trying to get those involved to resolve matters locally. If there are serious accusations to be addressed, then the case should continue – but if it is only about the Harvest Supper, removing pews, and toilets, seriously there are better things to be doing…