- SPIKED - JULY 19, 2021 - CALVIN ROBINSON -
The Reverend Charlie Boyle – the vicar of All Saints’ Church in Poole, Dorset – could potentially be sacked for breaking Covid guidelines. Boyle stands accused of singing the final verse of an Easter hymn without wearing a mask and generally failing to take responsibility for implementing Covid measures in his church. Most alarmingly, he could be punished for hugging a mourning parishioner during a funeral.
An investigation has been launched by the Archdeacon of Dorset after Boyle refused to resign quietly. The Church of England would have preferred to have kept this ordeal out of the press, for obvious reasons.
Many of the accusations against Boyle don’t stack up. Churches have been allowed a choir in a limited capacity for some time, but even before that was the case, they were allowed a cantor – a person who sings solo in order to lead the worship. Around Easter time, the guidance said that singing was allowed if part of an act of worship, provided singers were two metres apart. There was no limit on the number of singers, other than capacity limits based on the amount of space available. Choirs were even allowed to process into church, as long as they remained in single file.
Similarly, Boyle should not be punished for failing to wear a mask. Prior to the 19 July relaxation, government guidance on places of worship stated that, ‘Those who are leading services or events in a place of worship’ are exempt from wearing a face covering. So it seems Boyle didn’t break any Covid-19 guidelines in these respects.
Reading between the lines, it appears there is more going on here. A number of elderly members of the congregation are unhappy with Boyle’s leadership style. Complaints against him have been trickling in since 2018 – pre-pandemic. Could it be that the church leadership is using Covid as an excuse to dismiss the clergyman?
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