A Church of England Diocese is considering firing a vicar for failing to comply with the denomination's COVID-19 guidelines while at church.
The Rev. Charlie Boyle, the vicar of All Saints Church Brankscome, Dorset, explained that the Diocese of Salisbury had received a complaint alleging that he sang the last verse of the hymn "Thine Be the Glory" without a face covering during the end of an Easter Sunday service. Boyle was previously exempt from wearing a mask because he is asthmatic.
"The fact that someone would report me to the [church] authorities over this is quite upsetting,"
Boyle said in a statement, Christian Concern reports.
Boyle, who is being represented by the Christian Legal Centre, said that he was visited by the Archdeacon of Dorset, Anthony Macrow-Wood, who told him that he should resign from the vicarage by the end of July.
"The way that I've been treated personally by the diocese of Salisbury has been very heavy-handed … when really, what we could [have] had was just a conversation over the phone," the vicar said.
As reported by Premier Christian News, several allegations were made against Boyle, including singing "Thine Be The Glory" while walking down the church aisle, hugging a parishioner at a funeral and placing Bibles on pews after being kept in storage for a year. Additionally, Boyle failed to take overall responsibility for COVID risk assessments at the church.
Boyle has rejected Macrow-Wood's request for him to quietly resign.
"It's very depressing and acutely stressful and it's only my faith that is keeping me going and my belief that God has a good and perfect plan – a better plan," he said.
Despite getting in trouble for hugging a parishioner at a funeral, Boyle said he would "do it again."
"It's an involuntary reaction of comfort. I feel sad that the whole world has got to this stage where people will complain behind your back about giving a hug to somebody," he argued. "The motivation to hug someone is out of kindness and love."
According to a statement by the spokesman for the Diocese, "the Diocese cannot comment on individual cases. High standards of integrity and service are expected from our clergy. Occasionally clergy fall short of what is expected, and complaints are brought against them. These matters need to be dealt with in a formal and confidential way."
"The Clergy Disciplinary Measure can be used by anyone who has a formal complaint," the spokesman added. "Such complaints need to be thoroughly investigated with pastoral support always being offered at the same time."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Patricia Hamilton
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.