Vicar apologises for calling his congregation 'arrogant gossips'
A vicar has been forced to take a "sabbatical break for three months" after accusing some of his "grumbling" church members of "actively sabotaging his ministry".
Rev Andy Thewlis sent a 1,200 word letter to his congregation at All Saints Church in Burbage, Wiltshire where he complained that Sunday morning services were being spoilt by "gossip and disunity".
In his letter dated 16th November, Rev Thewlis also wrote: "The Sunday morning worship experience is neither warm, nor welcoming.
"It does not portray real love, joy or peace. Rather it reflects an organisation that is characterised by grumbling, gossip, and disunity."
He has now apologised after being summoned for a meeting with the Bishop of Salisbury, The Rt Rev Nick Holtam, The Times reported.
The Salisbury Diocese said: "Upon being made aware of the letter sent to church members in Burbage the Bishop of Salisbury met with the Rev Thewlis at the earliest opportunity.
"Mr Thewlis has now written a letter of apology to those who received his letter which was inappropriate in both tenor and content.
"The Bishop has also offered Mr Thewlis pastoral support including sabbatical time to consider his future and he has accepted this."
Rev Thewlis, who relocated to Wiltshire last year after working for 21 years in a Jersey church, also said in his original letter that he and his wife were "actively looking for a ministry elsewhere".