Northamptonshire village church declines comment after reports it's 'unlikely' to hire woman vicar

St Peter and St Paul Church in King's Sutton (Picture: Google)
St Peter and St Paul Church in King's Sutton (Picture: Google)

A Northamptonshire village church has refused to comment after claims it was "unlikely" to hire a woman for the vacant role of vicar.

An article published on King's Sutton parish council's website reported Parochial Church Council (PCC) discussions had taken place in recent weeks to fill the vacancy left by Friar Roger Bellamy after his death this summer.

Members of the PCC were "completely split down the middle" on whether to consider the possibility of appointing a woman to replace Friar Bellamy at the Saint Peter and Paul church in Church Avenue, Kings Sutton.

According to the parish council's website, some of the strongest voices in favour of a male-only succession belonged to women but village residents, on the whole, were happy for a female vicar to get the job.

"In fact, the casting vote that ensured continuation of the status quo at Saint Peter and Paul was placed by the PCC’s female chair," the article reads.

"The PCC’s vote to stick with tradition could put it at odds with lay members of the local church, however.

"A straw poll undertaken last month among members of the King’s Sutton congregation revealed that around three-quarters of them were in favour of (or had no objection to) appointing a woman."

Margaret Burne, the church's secretary, declined to comment on the PCC meeting, what happened during the meeting and the article published on the parish council's website.

Those who argue the PCC should consider all applicants for the vicar role on their merits rather than their gender are still hoping the congregation’s opinions will be taken into account before a final decision is made on the appointment, reports the parish council.

Privately, though, it says some opponents of the status quo have expressed doubts as to whether this will happen.

"King’s Sutton is like any other village," said an anonymous PCC member quoted in the article on the parish council's website.

"It’s a ‘goldfish bowl’ in which members of the PCC want to be seen as living in harmony with their fellow parishioners and, to some extent at least, representing their views.

"You’d like to think they might sense that people are generally opposed to maintaining outdated traditions and perhaps change their minds on this issue accordingly.

"At the moment, though, that seems unlikely."

When Anglican churches were first allowed to start appointing woman priests, the parish of King’s Sutton requested and was granted an opt-out, but the village's PCC always had the option to reverse that decision when looking at new appointments.