Warton vicar’s apology after Remembrance sermon sparks walkout

St Paul's Church, Warton.
St Paul's Church, Warton.

A vicar has apologised after a Remembrance Sunday sermon proved so controversial it caused members of a village church congregation to walk out.

Army veteran James Thompson was among a number of people who took offence that minister Rev Jane Greenhalgh was wearing a white poppy for the service at St Paul’s, Warton as well as various aspects of the content of her speech.

Rev Jane Greenhalgh, vicar of St Paul's Church, Warton

Rev Jane Greenhalgh, vicar of St Paul's Church, Warton

James’ wife Michelle took to social media to vent her feelings about the matter, saying Rev Greenhalgh had caused ‘a huge ruction’ by including references to white supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan and the English Defence League in her sermon.

“She also mentioned the story of people burning Nike trainers in the USA but never the 100th anniversary of the Armistice – and she followed up the two minutes’ silence with the American Reveille.

“We all know the church is not a political platform but she treated it as such.

“We live in a large military and ex military village but she obviously hadn’t done her research on several counts.”

James, who spent 19 years in the Light Infantry, said: “I walked out in disgust and several of the veterans did, too.”

Rev Greenhalgh, who has been vicar at St Paul’s as well as Holy Trinity, Freckleton. since July, said in a statement. “I was preaching on the concept of peace in the context of war.

“Clearly I got the tone of my message wrong and for that I apologise. It won’t happen again.

“I have already apologised to my Parochial Church Council, the parish’s governing body, for what happened.

“I am also in the process of reaching out to others who have expressed concern and I will be offering to have one-to-one conversations with them.

“As far as my decision to wear a white poppy, is concerned, it is important to note I always wear both colours of poppy and I did so on that Remembrance Sunday.

“I wear a red poppy to remember those who have died or been injured in wars and to show respect for their sacrifice; I wear a white poppy because I believe we can honour that sacrifice by reminding ourselves to work for peace.”