Priest accused of 'desecration' by locals for installing beer pumps in his church

Priest accused of 'desecration' by locals for installing beer pumps in his church
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A Cornish vicar is facing the wrath of some worshippers because he installed a bar and two beer taps at their local church ahead of a music and arts festival at the venue.

The 600-year-old St Ia’s Church in Cornwall is one of the main venues for the upcoming St Ives September Festival.

It will host artists including folk singer Cara Dillon and local singer-songwriter Bailey Tomkinson.

Ahead of the two-week run of events, Reverend Nick Widdows decided that the venue will serve alcohol, so installed two beer pumps supplied by St Ives Brewery.

He said the new bar would help the venue welcome new people into the church and told parishioners that it was only temporary.

“A few of our congregation are not particular fans of the beer pumps, especially, but they are only temporary,” he said.

“What I say to them is that this is just part of our way of welcoming all sorts of people into the church.

“Many people don't come into the church building at all, and actually, if people come in and have a great time at a festival event, then who knows, maybe they'll come in for something else as well when we put it on.”

But some members of the congregation were not so open-minded. One person, E.V. Rose, said: “This is a house of God. Not a pub.”

Churchgoer Barry Lewis told the Daily Mail the move “desecrates the memory of those who died for their faith”.

“As a long-standing member of St Ia Church congregation I must protest in the strongest possible terms regarding the siting of a bar to sell beer close to the high altar and the most sacred parts of our church.

“For the current vicar to be photographed pulling pints wearing vestments usually worn when celebrating the Eucharist (Holy Communion) is simply intolerable. I know that many of the congregation will agree with my comments.”

St Ives September Festival runs from September 9 to 23. St Ia's Church is hosting live music most evenings.

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