A METHODIST minister has staged a silent vigil to protest against a religious order who have threatened to evict him from his home.

The Reverend Paul Golightly, 61, and his wife Joan, 71, were joined by a number of friends and supporters for the vigil outside St Antony’s Priory, in Durham City.

The former director of the centre, in Claypath, says he was dismissed unfairly following a complaint against his employer, Anglican order of the Society of the Sacred Mission.


His contract was terminated on August 31 and he has since been asked to leave his and his wife's home, which was provided as part of the job.

Trustees of the charity say they dispute the Golightly’s version of events and said several invitations to discuss issues, which date back “some months” had gone unanswered.

They added that no further comment would be made but asked that “actions designed to intimate and harass staff members” are stopped.

Rev Golightly, who says he has been told not to speak to any members of staff, has alleged he was the subject of bullying and harassment prior to having his contract, and that of his wife, terminated on August 31.

As a result, they have been ask to leave their provided home and have been sent a county court summons.

The priory provides a number of community outreach projects, including for people in recovery. It is understood a number of activities, including recovery and wellbeing work, have been cancelled as the priory is undergoing a “period of transition”.

Lynne Burke, who worked at the priory for almost seven years but recently resigned, attended the vigil in support of Rev Golightly.


She said: “I’ve had an association with St Antony’s Priory since 2001 and the place has done amazing work with people in recovery and on the fringes of society.

“It’s been quite difficult for the last few years because of what Paul and Joan have been subjected to but I wanted to give it a chance to carry on with the recovery work. It became clear it has been stripped of everything I loved about it.”

Janice Kendal, who had been attending wellbeing sessions at the centre, said: “I wanted to stand here because I’ve seen the difference he makes to everyone in recovery.

“Everything has stopped very abruptly and a lot of people have been lost at sea because of that.”

A statement by the trustees said: “The trustees dispute the account of events as reported by the Golightlys, and point out that several invitations to discuss their issues have gone unanswered. These date back some months.

The trustees do not intend to comment further on matters that are sub judice, but request that actions designed to intimidate and harass staff members are terminated.