Dismissed pastor must quit church home

Posted: 18th June 2013

RectoryA senior pastor who refused to move out of his church-owned home subsequent to his dismissal for having an extra-marital affair with a member of his congregation has been ordered to leave by the High Court. In making an order of specific performance, the court noted that he had previously agreed to a consent order requiring him to give up the property and had been offered alternative accommodation.

The pastor, who had been in post for 30 years and was a founder of the church, was dismissed after his affair came to light in 2008. He had in 2012 agreed to the consent order in settlement of possession proceedings but had subsequently declined to give up occupation of the property although the church had offered to provide him with a new home in which he could live for the rest of his life, rent free.

He resisted the church’s application on grounds that the new home was inadequate and that his agreement to the consent order had been obtained by undue influence at a time when he was seriously ill and his wife had recently died.

Granting summary judgment against him, however, the court noted that the church’s philosophy was based on traditional Christian ethics and strong family values and found that the pastor’s defence was without merit. The court concluded: ‘It is a great shame that a man who has given a great deal to the church over a lengthy period should now seek to resile from an agreement that he entered into freely and with full consent’.