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The Algarve Anglican Vicar [Eric Britt] forced out of his church at Almancil by 'hard-drinking, hedonistic freemasons'

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The Algarve Anglican Vicar [Eric Britt] forced out of his church at Almancil by 'hard-drinking, hedonistic freemasons'

Post by Tony Bennett on 21.05.12 23:45

Shortly before the tragic events in Praia da Luz in early May 2007, when Madeleine McCann was reported missing, a church in the Anglican diocese which includes the church in Praia da Luz was rocked with another bitter dispute. To cut a long story short (published in both The Guardian and Anglican Mainstream in 2006), the lively, evangelical and charismatic vicar of Almancil Anglican Church (near Faro) was forced out of his position by a combination of a defiant, hard-drinking, hedonistic (!) congregation, who were backed by senior clerics. Britt eventually agreed to resign and accepted a financial settlement. Here's the report:

Anarchy in the Algarve

http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/2006/07/21/anarchy-in-the-algarve/

July 21st, 2006

Posted in: Comments Off

by Andrew Carey

What does the story of an Algarve Chaplaincy, which has descended into anarchy and recrimination and calls for alternative episcopacy, have to do with our contemporary Anglican crisis over authority? Very little it would seem. Yet look closely enough and some of the same themes are there.

Firstly, in the fall-out and mess that is descending upon Anglicanism wherever you look, this is yet one more sign of a loosening of territorial structures towards a network model of the Church.

Secondly, there are spiritual issues at stake. There is the presence of freemasonry in the chaplaincy and the diocese of Europe. There is the same disdain on the part of the diocese for the simplicity of evangelicalism, which prizes mission and evangelism above outward forms, traditions, bureaucracy and canonical order.

Thirdly, this is the same story of a diocese which feels threatened when congregations and clergy dare to express disagreement. Bishops and bureaucracies strike back with extraordinary venom when congregations of mature adults stand up to them. As a result the conflict becomes so bitter that neither side can possibly stand down without losing face.

[Guardian report - http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1825687,00.html][/size]

What could the Diocese of Europe have done differently. It could have insisted on protecting its clergyman in the face of a pattern of behaviour in the Algarve which seems to have been repeated time and time again. The retirees of the Chaplaincy were used to getting their way, couldn't cope with the presence of younger people and had begun to think that the church was just for them. It could have attempted to bring about reconciliation rather than dividing people and listening to them in tribal groups. It could have listened to the younger mix of people of the Almancil congregation – treating them as adults rather than recalcitrant children.

In my dealings with people in the diocese I've been surprised by the degree of animosity towards Almancil. From comments like, 'they're not really Anglican', to dark hints about further scandalous facts that are still to come to light, to suggestions that they have put about that Eric Britt could be defrocked or blacklisted, and outright attempts to deprive the Almancil congregation of their meeting place by trying to put pressure on the local Roman Catholic Diocese.

These are not the actions and talk of a diocese that is seeking reconciliation.

Yet there still is a hope of reconciliation. The Bishop in Europe, Geoffrey Rowell, has stood apart from all this so far, leaving this pastoral situation in the hands of his assistant bishop and Archdeacon. Well they have failed and it is surely time for him to step in. Even at this late stage, he could offer Almancil an olive branch and his own direct pastoral support.

Below is a longer version of my column which is published in this week's Church of England Newspaper.

At first sight it might seem idyllic after a 30-year ministry in Essex parishes and hospital chaplaincies to become Chaplain of the sunny, easy-going Algarve. The name alone is enough to recall easy-going summer holidays on a sandy Atlantic beach taking life slowly.

Eric had other plans. He knew when he took over the chaplaincy that it wasn't going to be easy. Its congregations were dwindling, giving was poor, and the expatriate community was demanding. He had a track record as a successful, understanding pastor and a churchgrower. Furthermore, he had plenty of ideas that he wanted to put into practice including ministry among holidaymakers and a drawing together of the three disparate congregations in the Chaplaincy to work together more effectively.

He and his wife had gone to the Algarve with their eyes wide open. They knew that the Algarve had had a succession of short term chaplains, some of whom had left under a cloud of rumour and innuendo.

They'd been promised the support of the diocese if any similar problems were to recur.

An expatriate community is never easy. The place was populated by colonels, newly-retired refugees from British suburbs, and the millionaire pack. A culture of drinking predominated, gossip held sway among many powerful women in the chaplaincy, and freemasonry was also rampant. Too many people had too much time on their hands in a relatively aimless, hedonistic life.

Yet for several years things were going well, the congregations were beginning to grow, giving had increased. But some conflicts had accompanied the changes that Eric Britt was steadily putting into place. One of the biggest challenges was getting this wealthy expatriate community to take stewardship seriously. Their giving averaged ££5 per week. He introduced the idea of bringing the Anglican Stewardship Association over to do some teaching and put into practice one of its programmes, the Full Measure Project.

At this point the opposition moved into the open.

Nasty emails were sent to Eric by one woman, who also verbally abused congregants who supported Eric. In April 2005 a new chaplaincy council of St Vincent's was elected containing a majority who opposed Eric' s ministry, and particularly his attempts to introduce a stewardship campaign.

From this point onwards Eric felt under constant pressure, animosity and attack from a hardcore group in the chaplaincy. He felt he had no option but to seek a Bishop's Visitation from the Suffragan Bishop, David Hamid. He had every right to suppose that the visitation would be supportive but two-and-a-half months passed from Bishop Hamid agreeing to the visitation, to the point when the Archdeacon finally turned up to conduct it. During this time the personal campaign got even worse as anxiety grew among the opposing group that this particular chaplain might not be such an easy target.

"We had abusive phone calls, abusive emails. Some parishioners refused to take communion from me. There was a campaign of libel and slander against me", says Eric honestly.

The Episcopal Visitation itself didn't go as planned, as far as Eric was concerned. The Archdeacon, the Ven Alan Woods, agreed to a request from the opposing group, to divide those who were 'for' and 'against' Eric and hear from them separately. Rather than bringing reconciliation, this strategy polarised the two sides further.

Eric was left feeling unsupported and was told not to respond to any accusations publicly and privately even when these concerned his tax affairs which had become a cause celebre among some of the opposing parishioners. There was a dispute over whether the chaplaincy should pay his tax or whether he should. This remained confused and the diocesan advice that the chaplaincy should pay did not apparently lay the matter to rest.

Eric became depressed when he found that the diocese was withdrawing its support from him. He says that this became pretty clear to him when the Archdeacon was seeing more of the 'antis' than his supporters. It was in January 2006 that Bishop David Hamid after some correspondence phoned and told him that he had three months and then he had to leave. He arranged a meeting with Bishop Hamid and the Clergy Appointments Adviser. Bishop Hamid even wrote him a glowing reference, but was refusing to support him in his desire to stay.

During this whole period the shining light in Eric's life had been the growth of one of the congregations in Amancil to which a younger age group was attracted. Eric's style has been described variously as 'open evangelical', or 'catholic charismatic'. His holiday clubs for children had brought in a number of youngsters and their parents. Amancil was now regularly attracting about 120 people and this congregation wanted to keep Eric and his wife Sue.

A proposal was put forward that the three congregations in the chaplaincy should each become self-supporting and have their own priest. But reconciliation between Eric and the diocese became more difficult after he withdrew from consideration for a post in Dusseldorf, Germany.

He contacted the Clergy trade Union, Amicus, something which jarred with his principles, when it became increasingly clear that the diocese wanted him out and didn't want to hear of any alternative. At the next meeting with Bishop David Hamid he took the Union representative, the Rev Dr Gerry Barlow, to the meeting, who says he was shocked at the way the Bishop had talked to Eric.

Barlow is critical of the way the diocese has handled the situation from its failure to communicate any reasons for 'pushing' Eric out of his post, to resorting to the leverage of withdrawing Eric's licence, and for polarising rather than reconciling the chaplaincy.

Eventually a deal was struck whereby Eric 'accepted' withdrawal of his licence, rather than offer his resignation. He received a financial settlement and has agreed to withdraw from all legal action for libel against his accusers in the chaplaincy.

The Amancil congregation have decided they want to keep Eric Britt on as their priest and have declared independence from the diocese. They were particularly stung when the diocese decided not to fund their children's holiday club this year, so they have funded it themselves and are determined to remain faithful to their mission to holidaymakers and the local community. Eric was also concerned that without his presence the tradition of Almancil and their needs would no longer be respected. The congregation had increased in the past five years in both numbers and commitment, and there had been some talk in the other congregations of closing Almancil down entirely.

Almancil is now an independent Anglican congregation bruised from its experiences with diocesan bureaucracies, anxious to flourish under alternative episcopacy. While most examples of seeking alternative Episcopal oversight in Anglican circles come as a result of deep-seated differences of viewpoint theologically, this desire from Almancil comes about because of a pastoral mess which could have been avoided. The diocese has never sought the views of the Almancil congregation and has taken the side of what it has called a 'significant and powerful minority' in the chaplaincy with little regard for natural justice.

This small but faithful evangelical congregation needs support. Will any Bishop step up to the mark and offer oversight and care?


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


This sad tale did have a happy ending. For just two weeks before Dr Gerald McCann and his family and friends went out to Praia da Luz for their spring holiday, Eric Britt had seen his own, independent church, grow and thrive. No doubt this was a lot easier for him, now he was no longer burdened by a group of 'hard-drinking hedonists':

First Easter celebrated at All Saints, Almancil, Algarve

April 12th, 2007

Chris Sugden

Posted in: All Saints Algarve Comments Off

All Saints Anglican Church which was formed in July 2006 welcomed its first Easter Day Congregation last Sunday, and the numbers exceeded all expectations. With some 174 worshippers, people were having to sit on tables around the room, but no one seemed to mind.

The congregation of All Saints has been growing steadily since its formation, and our reporter asked the priest in charge, Rev'd Eric Britt, if he could explain the reason for the growth. He said : "I believe that it is partly due to the fact that we are no longer restricted by the rules and regulations of the Diocese in Europe and the Church of England. This means we can respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we seek to go forward, without the ecclesiastical baggage of by-gone days that related to an established church and not a gathered church. In many ways we are experiencing 'resurrection life', having gone through two dark years of pain. Already we are having to consider a second service, either running concurrently or at 9.30 am in the Upper Room Chapel, which sits about 35 people, since the large room is now getting too small for us.

On Palm Sunday All Saints held its first confirmation service, and already there are another 7 adults seeking to confirm their faith, and more younger families are being drawn into the fellowship of the church because of their exciting children's work, which included a Children's Adventure Day during Holy Week.

____________________

The amazing symbiosis between bees and flowers:

https://answersingenesis.org/evidence-for-creation/god-created-plant-pollinator-partners/  

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Re: The Algarve Anglican Vicar [Eric Britt] forced out of his church at Almancil by 'hard-drinking, hedonistic freemasons'

Post by Gillyspot on 22.05.12 7:47

From the Algarve Resident 2006

"The division within the Anglican Church here in the Algarve has hit the British newspapers with reports in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, on the internet version of the Church of England Newspaper along with the Amicus website, the union representing Rev Eric Britt. In each case, only one side of the story has been printed.

Indeed, The Resident has also published only one side, but not for lack of trying to elicit a response from Mr Eric Britt.

The Resident received an e-mail sent by Paul Luckman, part of the worship team of All Saints’ Church, dated July 13, stating that he felt sure Eric Britt would be pleased to speak to us. However, since the inception of the breakaway church, we have been unable to make telephone contact with Mr Britt. Following several attempts last week, The Resident’s telephone calls were eventually returned by Mr Luckman. He advised us that Mr Britt was unable to meet with us and that indeed it was Mr Britt’s view that such a meeting would not be useful as The Resident would not be sympathetic to the cause.

Damned if we do, damned if we don’t was the feeling of The Resident’s editorial team.

The diocese in Europe and the council of St Vincent’s (Church of England) Anglican Church are both saddened and disenchanted with press statements being printed in various publications. The manner in which Mr Britt claims he was removed from his position, and much more, have been clarified in statements released by the diocese in Europe and St Vincent’s council. Both statements set out the facts and there is much comment about the way in which Mr Britt was asked to move from the Algarve, his tax situation and more. Regrettably, we do not have sufficient room to print the statements this week, but should any reader require a copy they should e-mail news@portugalresident.com. As we mentioned above, Mr Britt has made no contact with us.

The Guardian quotes Mr Luckman as being one of Mr Britt’s supporters, and states that Mr Luckman asserted that some people had resented being asked to put their hands into their pockets to support a stewardship programme within the church. This statement is most strongly refuted by the council of St Vincent’s, the members of which claim that paying for such a programme was unnecessary, as stewardship programmes are available at no cost. In its simplest form, a stewardship programme is a vehicle by which parishioners are encouraged to become better Christians through understanding, worship and their financial commitment to the church.

We have received various missives from readers. Along with the sadness of the split within the church, there have been more vociferous comments. These include allegations that the Church of England had failed in its duty many months ago to deal with Mr Britt in an effective way, thus preventing much of the misery currently being inflicted on the true Christians here in the Algarve. With allegations concerning Mr Britt’s finances (both before he arrived in Portugal and since), his sexuality and his constant need to be the centre of attention, putting his requirement to be heard above listening to his parishioners, it is of little wonder that so many people have an opinion to offer. But still no comment from Mr Britt.

And what of the involvement of Bishop Cavalcanti, who had apparently supported the breakaway All Saints’ Church? Word was that Bishop Cavalcanti had done a U-turn and had withdrawn his support – could this be substantiated? As mentioned in last week’s The Resident, Bishop Cavalcanti has had more than his fair share of fame, or infamy. He is allegedly attempting to improve relationships with the Anglican Church and has, therefore, decided not to continue with his licencing of Mr Britt’s breakaway group. Such a situation would leave Mr Britt without a licence to officiate as an Anglican priest.

Amicus, the union representing Mr Britt, has a website on which it states,

“ … the Reverend Eric Britt’s departure from the parish followed the departure of several chaplains, following a pattern of bullying”. We were anxious to find out the truth of this matter. In a telephone conversation with Rachel Maskell, Amicus’ national officer for clergy, we were advised that this statement was printed following information from Mr Britt. Ms Maskell was unable to provide more in-depth information on who the previously bullied chaplains were. Our local enquiries have failed to produce any additional information.

By The Resident

Editorial Team"

http://www.algarveresident.com/14282-7661/algarve/damned-if-we-do-damned-if-we-dont

Glad it had a happy ending though smilie

____________________
Kate McCann "I know that what happened is not due to the fact of us leaving the children asleep. I know it happened under other circumstances"
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Re: The Algarve Anglican Vicar [Eric Britt] forced out of his church at Almancil by 'hard-drinking, hedonistic freemasons'

Post by Hummingbird on 22.05.12 15:20

@Gillyspot wrote:From the Algarve Resident 2006

"The division within the Anglican Church here in the Algarve has hit the British newspapers with reports in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, on the internet version of the Church of England Newspaper along with the Amicus website, the union representing Rev Eric Britt. In each case, only one side of the story has been printed.

Indeed, The Resident has also published only one side, but not for lack of trying to elicit a response from Mr Eric Britt.

The Resident received an e-mail sent by Paul Luckman, part of the worship team of All Saints’ Church, dated July 13, stating that he felt sure Eric Britt would be pleased to speak to us. However, since the inception of the breakaway church, we have been unable to make telephone contact with Mr Britt. Following several attempts last week, The Resident’s telephone calls were eventually returned by Mr Luckman. He advised us that Mr Britt was unable to meet with us and that indeed it was Mr Britt’s view that such a meeting would not be useful as The Resident would not be sympathetic to the cause.

Damned if we do, damned if we don’t was the feeling of The Resident’s editorial team.

The diocese in Europe and the council of St Vincent’s (Church of England) Anglican Church are both saddened and disenchanted with press statements being printed in various publications. The manner in which Mr Britt claims he was removed from his position, and much more, have been clarified in statements released by the diocese in Europe and St Vincent’s council. Both statements set out the facts and there is much comment about the way in which Mr Britt was asked to move from the Algarve, his tax situation and more. Regrettably, we do not have sufficient room to print the statements this week, but should any reader require a copy they should e-mail news@portugalresident.com. As we mentioned above, Mr Britt has made no contact with us.

The Guardian quotes Mr Luckman as being one of Mr Britt’s supporters, and states that Mr Luckman asserted that some people had resented being asked to put their hands into their pockets to support a stewardship programme within the church. This statement is most strongly refuted by the council of St Vincent’s, the members of which claim that paying for such a programme was unnecessary, as stewardship programmes are available at no cost. In its simplest form, a stewardship programme is a vehicle by which parishioners are encouraged to become better Christians through understanding, worship and their financial commitment to the church.

We have received various missives from readers. Along with the sadness of the split within the church, there have been more vociferous comments. These include allegations that the Church of England had failed in its duty many months ago to deal with Mr Britt in an effective way, thus preventing much of the misery currently being inflicted on the true Christians here in the Algarve. With allegations concerning Mr Britt’s finances (both before he arrived in Portugal and since), his sexuality and his constant need to be the centre of attention, putting his requirement to be heard above listening to his parishioners, it is of little wonder that so many people have an opinion to offer. But still no comment from Mr Britt.

And what of the involvement of Bishop Cavalcanti, who had apparently supported the breakaway All Saints’ Church? Word was that Bishop Cavalcanti had done a U-turn and had withdrawn his support – could this be substantiated? As mentioned in last week’s The Resident, Bishop Cavalcanti has had more than his fair share of fame, or infamy. He is allegedly attempting to improve relationships with the Anglican Church and has, therefore, decided not to continue with his licencing of Mr Britt’s breakaway group. Such a situation would leave Mr Britt without a licence to officiate as an Anglican priest.

Amicus, the union representing Mr Britt, has a website on which it states,

“ … the Reverend Eric Britt’s departure from the parish followed the departure of several chaplains, following a pattern of bullying”. We were anxious to find out the truth of this matter. In a telephone conversation with Rachel Maskell, Amicus’ national officer for clergy, we were advised that this statement was printed following information from Mr Britt. Ms Maskell was unable to provide more in-depth information on who the previously bullied chaplains were. Our local enquiries have failed to produce any additional information.

By The Resident

Editorial Team"

http://www.algarveresident.com/14282-7661/algarve/damned-if-we-do-damned-if-we-dont

Glad it had a happy ending though smilie


Thank you both for these posts very interesting and I shall def. be using this information along with The Priests thread that I am currently working on.

I find it very hard to believe that an organisation like this that is supposed to be 'religious and good' can have so many bad things written about them, so many shady dealings!

I can't do the linking bit yet but if you look on the Daily Mail papers website today there is an amazing story about the girls body found buried in a Mafia tomb and how she was kidnapped for Vatican sex parties, claims made by Catholic Churches leading exorcist Priest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Can you really believe all you read in the papers?)

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Re: The Algarve Anglican Vicar [Eric Britt] forced out of his church at Almancil by 'hard-drinking, hedonistic freemasons'

Post by jd on 22.05.12 15:25

The bomb outside the girls school in Italy yesterday allegedly was by the mafia. It did make me think why on earth are they bombing a girls school
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