In a dramatic about-turn today, a petition submitted to the Most Reverend Kendra Lust, Archbishop of Muccleshell by two disaffected parishioners in Turbary Park [Prunella Sour and Anthony Grapes] has succeeded in its aim of removing from her post with immediate effect under-fire vicar of Our Lady of Ingrowing-Toenails, the Revd Agge Nostik.
Her Grace the Archbishop is said to have accepted "with great reluctance" arguments that the Revd Agge Nostik's conduct had fallen short of the standards expected by the Church with critics citing the appearance of the vicar on a new church sign together with "an explicit slideshow/sermon" last Sunday as "the last straw" in an ongoing power-struggle that has seen Turbary Park congregations increase 30 fold in less than three months. Bishop Lust had previously offered unequivocal support to the evangelically-minded [and even more broad-minded] diversity/inclusion-trained incumbent and had even endorsed, in principle, her controversial outreach programmes [including tantric bible classes held in the under-heated Church Hall au naturelle]. Frequently citing the mantra that "means justify ends" the Archbishop said - as recently as last week - that "There's no questioning that Agge’s self-evident ends are widely admired - especially in that cold Church hall and in particular by a segment of the community with which the church does not ordinarily find favour". However, today, the visibly shaken Archbishop, admitted that the vicar's methods had also alienated a section of the congregation “for whom the Book of Revelation is a sacred text within the bible, not a glossy magazine with a wipe down cover”. Today also saw a withdrawal of support by the Dean and Chapter and without it, the Revd Agge Nostik's position was described as "untenable". "She had outstanding points which made her a popular incumbent, but they were not, in the end, enough to save her", an anonymous source said.
In a move designed to heal the obvious rift in the fabric of the church-going community, Bishop Lust has moved swiftly to appoint a replacement vicar whose views, local parishioners will hope, will be more in line with the traditionalist Sour-Grapes agenda. The couple had specifically requested that the new vicar be a man, preferably with a beard and "blessed with a reassuringly traditional demeanour and a reasonable grasp of basic theology".
Time will tell whether the Reverend Manley Most-Severe will meet all of the petitioners' demands, but, at first glance, his CV suggests that he will tick most of the right boxes. A graduate of the University of Afpuddle and St Mary Magdalene Theological College, Chickerell, he learned to ride a bicycle at a young age and was ordained in 2018. His decision immediately to re-refurbish the refurbished church sign, has "offered instant solace to those seeking a different direction" [and doubtless disappointed just as many [Ed]], "or rather signalled a return to the direction previously charted" [ie inevitable decline, and self-righteous extinction [Ed]] and we are of course pleased to have a man back in charge in what is, after all, traditionally a man's job", Miss Sour told a local reporter.
At least one other parishioner agrees. "His name alone inspires confidence and we are very much looking forward to meeting him. He sounds as though he is exactly what we asked for - apparently he even has a very nicely-trimmed beard - and I am sure he will bring healing to our community at this difficult time. Amazingly - and believe me it's a distinct plus for those of us on the more traditional wing of the Church - he even believes in God which is very unusual these days. All in all, I am confident he will steady the Turbary Park ship", Mr Grapes said. Flower display organiser and single mother of eight Sue Chernemowt who has also yet to meet the new vicar concurs: "It will be nice for the kiddies to have a strong male role model, something the previous vicar, for all her other virtues, couldn't really provide"
Readers of the Ibberton i, however, have reason to suspect otherwise and indeed know better. As Guest Editor Ron Nasty has written: "It could well be a case of out of the frying pan ... the devil you know being better than ... and being careful what you wish for. Any which way it looks like it's going to be a bumpy ride".
The Reverend Manley Most-Severe will occupy the manse with long-time spiritual helpmeet Ralph. Previously the vicar of St Peter and St Paul, Brighton, the 29 year old is an enthusiastic interior decorator specialising in soft furnishings and, as a musical theatre enthusiast, a frequent visitor to the West End with Ralph and his mother Elouise.
A spokesperson for the Most Reverend Kendra Lust, Archbishop of Muccleshell said "It's probably a case of wait and see".