Emsworth church-goers walk out of service in show of support for banned reverend

The Rev Simon Sayers has issued an apology over his actions 20 years ago
The Rev Simon Sayers has issued an apology over his actions 20 years ago

Parishioners and residents of Emsworth have expressed their wholehearted and loving support for Rev Simon Sayers and voiced their ‘immense sadness at his treatment by church authorities’.

Rev Simon Sayers resigned as rector of Warblington with Emsworth on Sunday, after the Bishop of Portsmouth’s announcement banning him for five years over an incident of sexual misconduct 20 years ago. http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/emsworth-reverend-resigns-over-sexual-misconduct-with-schoolgirl-1-7690380

Many members of the congregation walked out of a church service in protest of the announcement.

Emsworth resident and church choir member Leslie Grist, said: “Simon has served this parish and town wonderfully over the last 12 years.

“He has been kept in limbo for nearly two years.

“Now he and his family have lost his income and been told to get out of their home within two weeks. It just seems so harsh and unkind. There is real outrage about this here.”

Barry and Eileen Mapley said: “It seems that Simon has been silenced and given no real opportunity to explain his side of the story to the local community and church. It seems very unfair.”

Norman and Wendy Peers added: “A lot of people are very upset about how he has been treated. I will certainly be writing to the Bishop and the Archbishop.”

Emsworth resident and church member, Michelle Murphy, added: “Simon has been a wonderful minister during his time at St James’. Many are heartbroken at the outcome of this protracted process.

“Simon had admitted fault and the penalty seems so harsh on him and his family after the police found no case to answer.

“I know the congregations at Warblington and Emsworth will want to do everything they can to support Simon and his family now and in the future.”

Long-time Emsworth residents and church members, Richard and Ineke Belfrage said: “It’s one thing for the Church to expect high standards of its ministers and to exercise discipline when things go wrong. But this punishment is wholly disproportionate and the process has been very badly handled.

“Simon and his family have been kept in limbo for the best part of two years, cut off from the church and community. Now they are suddenly told that they have just two weeks to get out of their house.

“Meanwhile the church and community have been kept almost completely in the dark by the church authorities.”

Canon John Harwood said: “There seems a huge credibility gap between God’s heart of mercy and kindness, and the way that Simon has been treated by the church.”

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