Mystery surrounds clergy resignations
MYSTERY last night surrounded the sudden resignation of a Suffolk vicar and one of his female curates. The Rev Keith White, vicar of St John's Baptist Church in Ipswich, has resigned from his post due to “personal reasons”, it emerged yesterday.
By Danielle Nuttall
MYSTERY last night surrounded the sudden resignation of a Suffolk vicar and one of his female curates.
The Rev Keith White, vicar of St John's Baptist Church in Ipswich, has resigned from his post due to “personal reasons”, it emerged yesterday.
His colleague, the Rev Lynne Thorpe, who is Ordained Local Minister and Parish Link Worker at the church, has also resigned for “personal reasons”.
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The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich would not reveal the reasons behind their decision last night.
A statement, issued on behalf of the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, The Rt Rev Richard Lewis, said: “Bishop Richard is sorry to announce that following a meeting between the Rev Keith White and the Bishop of Dunwich, the Rt Rev Clive Young, Mr White has resigned as vicar of St John's Ipswich, with immediate effect, for personal reasons.
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“The Rev Lynne Thorpe has also resigned as Ordained Local Minister and as Parish Link Worker with immediate effect, also for personal reasons.
“Bishop Clive and other senior clergy colleagues are supporting both families at this difficult time.”
Mr White, who is said to be a family man with teenage children, is also chairman of governors at St John's Primary School in Victory Road, Ipswich, and has lived and served as a member of the clergy in Africa.
Ms Thorpe began her church career as a community link worker and was later ordained a priest at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
Neither of the pair was at home yesterday.
A former member of St John's PCC, who did not wish to be named, said last night: “I was surprised and saddened to hear of the resignation of Keith and Lynne.
“I have worked with both of them in the past on various church projects and always found them to be 100% dedicated members of the clergy and inspiring Christian leaders.
“I am not aware of the reasons behind their sudden departure from St John's, but I am sure it was an extremely difficult decision for both of them to make, given how much they loved both their work and the community they served.
“Under Keith's charismatic leadership, the congregations at St John's had grown to the point where most Sundays the church is packed out.
“Lynne was ordained a priest a couple of years ago and through her work in the community, had enriched so many people's lives with the Christian faith. They will both be greatly missed by many of us.
“Obviously, after an announcement like this, St John's now faces a difficult period of rebuilding and consolidation, but with the support of its congregation and many dedicated church volunteers, I'm sure it will, with new leadership, grow stronger.”
Parishioners turning up for last night's hour-long service at the church did not wish to comment on the news.
At the close of the service, led by Reader Roger Coley, Bishop Richard's statement was read out in full.
The congregation was then told: “In the short term, our congregation and parish will be cared for by the church wardens and ministry teams in association with the Rural Dean, Canon Peter Townley.
“Bishop Richard hopes we will join him to pray for all those whose lives have been affected.”
After the statement was read, members of the congregation fell silent for prayer.
Mr White is believed to live in the Vicarage in the grounds of the church, based in Cauldwell Hall Road.
A resident in Cauldwell Hall Road, who did not want to be named, said: “It was quite a shock to hear he has resigned. It's a shame. He has done a lot for the community and a lot for St John's.”
St John's is one of the busiest churches in Ipswich, with close links to St John's Primary School.
In recent years it has built a new church hall facility, which is used by the wider community for a range of activities including a pre-school nursery.
The area where the old church hall stood was resurfaced and is now used as a sports area and car park. All the developments are believed to have taken place while Mr White was vicar.