A HILLS congregation is circulating a petition after its outspoken Anglican priest was suspended for “tones of blasphemy” in his social media and theatre performances.
A barrage of callers rang talkback radio on Monday to praise Father Chris Bedding, known for his work as a stand-up comedian, activism for same-sex marriage and asylum seeker rights and his irreverent sermons popular with his Darlington-Bellevue parish.
Father Bedding told talkback radio this morning that he sensed the trial before the Church Court would drag on.
“Bishop Kate Wilmot read a prepared statement and some in the congregation were very angry and walked out,” he said.
“They wanted answers and Kate was not prepared to give any.”
Perth Bishop Kate Wilmot stressed the matter was due to “clergy discipline” and Father Bedding had been suspended, pending the decision of the church’s professional standards board.
Father Bedding said the complaint came from a senior and influential member of Archbishop of Perth Roger Herft’s staff.
“The person who made the complaint, did so to herself; she then investigated her own complaint and made her own recommendation on the complaint,” he said.
“The process has been so bizarre and un-transparent I have to question whether I have done something wrong or whether it is an organisation that has turned on itself and is not really considering the needs of the people.
“I am absolutely convinced when the matter comes before trial I will be cleared fit to continue.”
“I love the church and have been a minister for 20 years. My congregation will tell you they feel I am a competent and creative person who serves the gospel.”
Bishop Wilmot said the process prescribed by the Professional Standards Statute (2015) was independent and confidential and further details could not be revealed.
“The Diocesan leadership will arrange for clerical and pastoral support for the parish until the matter is resolved,” she said.
“During suspension, (Father) Chris Bedding will continue to receive the stipend and benefits clergy are entitled to and he has been offered counselling and support.”