The chairman of a Cornish church has stood down amid a ‘sexism’ row following its decision to advertise for a male-only vicar.
Andy Virr, Conservative councillor for Fowey, Par, Tywardreath and Golant has stood down as chairman of the town's Fowey Parochial Church Council (PCC) and churchwarden after a heated meeting following the decision not to have a female priest earlier this year.
Fellow church warden Carol Carruthers and her husband Treasurer Graham have also stood down.
The church council issued this statement: “Carol Carruthers and Andy Virr decided before the APCM not to stand for re-election. We are grateful for the thanks and gifts we received at the meeting."
A heated meeting of the Church Council in Cornwall on Sunday heard from one angry resident that she was “offended on behalf of Fowey” over the “totally sexist” decision not to have a female priest earlier this year.
St Fimbarrus Church at Fowey in Cornwall has been without a vicar for the past four years.
It's claimed that a minority of the congregation said they couldn't be part of the church on 'theological grounds' unless the priest was a man.
Earlier this year, the neighbouring parishes of Tywardreath and Golant welcomed a female vicar, the Reverend Shona Hoad.
However, Fowey PCC had previously made its decision not to have a woman vicar, and was still without a priest, when it passed the resolution to advertise for a male-only vicar.
The annual PCC meeting was chaired by St Austell vicar the Rev Howard Flint who admitted that Fowey “is in a difficult place”.
A new church council was elected during the proceedings.
After 40 minutes of discussion about parish matters, a Fowey woman declared that it was time to talk about “the elephant in the room”. She said: “It appears we are avoiding a discussion about a vicar. We are not talking about what we are all here for."
A local man said the choice for a male-only vicar was “profoundly wrong”. He added: “We strongly believe this was wrong and unrepresentative of the parish and the town. We recommend that the PCC urgently revisit the resolution."
A question was asked if the resolution to advertise for a male-only vicar could be rescinded. The meeting was told it could if the majority of the PCC agreed to it.
Members of the public heard that only one person responded to a previous advert for the job and he was not qualified for the post. The PCC was asked if it could be re-advertised to include women. Through the legal process, the previous resolution could be rewritten, which members were told could take a number of weeks.
Credit: Lee Trewhela, Local Democracy Reporter