Reporter: KEN BENNETT
Date online: 20 June 2014
A bishop faced a barrage of questions from parishioners over why their popular minister is no longer allowed to officiate at services in his former parish.
The Rev Howard Sutcliffe, part-time minister at St Chad’s, Uppermill, had to retire when he reached his 70th birthday.
But parishioners at the three churches in Uppermill and Diggle wanted him to conduct services until other clergy were appointed. The Church of England says Mr Sutcliffe can assist in any other parish in the diocese — but not St Chad’s.
The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker and Cherry Vann, Archdeacon of Rochdale, hosted a 90-minute meeting at St Chad’s to hear the congregations’ concerns.
One frustrated man said: “He has been given a very raw deal. He should have been allowed to continue. It would have been good for the parish. It’s galling.”
Another said: “This is a deeply-felt issue. Exceptions are there to be made — and can be made.”
The bishop reiterated the “anywhere but St Chad’s” policy and said a new structure for the Saddleworth team would include stipendary posts and eventually a new team rector.
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