MEMBERS of a church congregation will be demonstrating against the suspension of their priest in Christchurch town centre tomorrow.

People from St George’s Church in Jumpers will be meeting in Saxon Square to publicly object to the “undemocratic and unchristian manner” in which Reverend Andrew Hawthorne has been suspended.

In May, The Daily Echo reported Mr Hawthorne had been placed on gardening leave more than a year ago, leading to false rumours to spread and increasing concern among regular churchgoers. Since then, the priest has been formally suspended and is now not even allowed to enter the church, where he was once minster.

Jill Barr, one of the church members said: “As a congregation we have been kept in the dark about the hearings and no holding statement has been made.

“We have not been allowed to make any representations on his behalf or been given any information as to why he has been suspended.

“From our point of view he has done nothing but good for the church. Under him, the church and in particular the Sunday School was thriving. We believe him to be a man of integrity and find it hard to believe that he has done anything to warrant suspension.”

Mrs Barr added: “We are objecting to the Church hierarchy’s callous treatment of Andrew which has affected his whole family, leaving them in limbo for one and a half years.

“We also object to the undemocratic and unchristian manner in which he has been suspended.”

The protest will take place from 10am to noon.