Council To Continue With Prayers Before Meetings

Council Chamber at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

The Islands’ Council will continue to have prayers said as part of the agenda of full council meetings.

The Government minister, Eric Pickles, has written to all local authorities to say it is up to each Town Hall to decide what they wish to do.

It follows a High Court case in February where a judge found in favour of objectors who took Bideford Town Council to court over prayers on the official meeting running order.

Since then the Government has changed the rules that govern councils to give them local freedom to set their own rules.

Our Councillors have just been issued a memo from Administration Officer Sue Pritchard stating that the Chairman and Vice Chairman have decided to keep the religious ceremony.

Not all islanders are happy with that. St Mary’s resident Linda Wornes is a humanist and believes there should have been a vote to decide whether prayers are retained.

The Council guidance says that any Member or Officer who does not wish to take part should not feel compelled to do so and may leave the meeting for the duration of the prayer and that won’t be recorded in the minutes.

Reverend Charlie Gibbs is pleased that prayers will remain on the agenda but he feels members should have voted on it, adding that would be the right thing to do. He’d love to know what people really do think.

Charlie says he ‘could weep’ over people in authority turning their back on Christian views that are part of this nation and the views of the ordinary person in the street.

Anglican Church Chaplain, Canon Peter Walker, says he doesn’t have a view either way. He says if the Council ask him to say prayers before the meeting, he will.


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