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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 January 2008, 11:15 GMT
Town gender row minister 'hurt'
The symbol of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The symbol of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The woman minister at the centre of the Presbyterian gender row in Portadown has spoken of how much it has hurt.

A traditional joint Christmas service involving two Presbyterian churches in the town was cancelled this year.

The male minister of First Portadown church was not prepared to share his pulpit with the female minister of Armagh Road Presbyterian.

Rev Christina Bradley told Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence it was hard not to take it personally.

"People say 'well it's not meant personally', but it hurts me right down," she said.

"I can't go for a sex change just because some people don't like it that the Lord called me as a minister.

"But it touches my entire essence."

The churches - First Portadown at Edenderry and Armagh Road - have taken turns to host a joint Christmas Day service for almost 60 years.

However, this year Reverend Stafford Carson said he could not allow a woman minister into his pulpit.

Rev Bradley said she had been in contact with Rev Carson in recent days.

"We will be meeting in the very near future - just the two of us - to talk about the issues and take things forward.

"We are new to each other and we have got to get to know each other as the people we are and understand where we're coming from," she said.

"I would be saying to him 'Stafford are you actually aware that you are hurting me right down to the marrow of my bone' - and he may not be."

Last week, Presbyterian Moderator Dr John Finlay moved to defuse the situation.

Dr Finlay said: "We are quite unequivocal as far as women are eligible in the same terms as men and our stance on gender equality is absolutely clear on that one, and nobody is allowed to frustrate the law of the church, either an individual or a body. So that's one side of it.

"The other side of the story is that, as a church, we allow those who have reservations about the role of women in ministry to exercise freedom of conscience, so that nobody is forced to act contrary to their own personal opinions."

Church is embroiled in gender row
07 Jan 08 |  Northern Ireland


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