The Parish of Trumpington
9th April 2008
The Tribunal which inquired into whether there was a pastoral breakdown in the parish of St Mary and St Michael, Trumpington held a week-long hearing in London last September. The five-member Tribunal produced its report at the beginning of this year. The Tribunal was convened under section 9 of the Incumbents (Vacation of Benefices) Measure 1977 (as amended 1993).
Having seen evidence of the arrogant, aggressive, rude, bullying, highhanded, disorganised and at times petty behaviour of Dr Ambrose, about which the applicants had complained, the Tribunal was united in being satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that serious pastoral breakdown had occurred in Trumpington parish and that Dr Ambrose was primarily responsible for that breakdown.
In his Decision Letter, sent to the Incumbent and to the Appellants, the Bishop of Ely said, I have carefully considered the findings of the Tribunal, and its Report. It seems to me that the Report discloses a lamentable situation. I am astonished and dismayed that there are recorded two occasions on which it is said that Dr Ambrose spat at parishioners, allegations which were not challenged in cross-examination (paragraphs 26 and 72 of the Report). These incidents (whatever happened precisely and I have no reason, of course, to doubt the accounts given by the parishioners concerned) may be seen as among the lowest points of what plainly became an increasingly unhappy relationship between Dr Ambrose and his parishioners as charted in the Report. It is also, for example, completely inappropriate to make personal attacks on members of the PCC during sermons.
The Tribunal concluded: We recommend that the Bishop executes a declaration of avoidance declaring the benefice of Trumpington to be vacant in accordance with section 10 of the 1977 Measure. We do not consider that the serious pastoral breakdown in Trumpington parish can be remedied if Dr Ambrose remains as the Vicar there.
After careful consideration, the Bishop of Ely, Dr Anthony Russell, has accepted the advice of the Tribunal. He has executed a declaration of avoidance declaring the benefice vacant from 9 July 2008. He has also made an order, as he is required to do under the Measure, disqualifying Dr Ambrose from carrying out any of the functions of his office. This disqualification has immediate effect.
In accordance with the provisions of the Measure, Dr Ambrose must leave the parish at the end of the three-month period. He will receive appropriate financial support, in accordance with the Measure.
The Bishop paid tribute to the many people who have offered prayers and support during this difficult and sad time. He hopes it will now be possible to bring this unhappy period to a conclusion. In the immediate future, the parish will be under the pastoral care of the Archdeacon of Cambridge, the Venerable John Beer, who will be assisted by other Cambridge clergy.
For details and more information:
Canon Owen Spencer-Thomas,
9th April 2008