Resignation of the Revd Fr Michael Graham

It is with much sadness that we announce the resignation of The Revd Fr Michael Graham following a front page article published by Cyprus Today on Saturday 30th April 2022, and subsequent comments made regarding his leadership style, the running of recent parish meetings and his chairing of the previous Church Council.

Following the morning Eucharist on Sunday 1st May 2022 Fr Michael made this statement:

I had hoped that, following on from the two open meetings held in the Church Hall on the future of St. Andrew’s, the Annual Church Meeting last Sunday (24th April 2022) would focus on the election of Church Officers and the Church Council which would lead us into the future, particularly with respect to how ministry would be exercised in the parish and how a new Chaplain would be found.

As I reminded the ACM, I reluctantly took on the role of Priest-in-Charge of St. Andrew’s on a Self-Supporting Ministry basis, trying to give us a breathing space after the trauma of the past four years following the departure of the last Chaplain and the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. My appointment is for two years, ending on 19th September next year – or sooner.

For if an appointment is made before then I am more than happy, in fact I would be delighted, as would Janet and our family, to step down. But sadly, yesterday, as I opened a copy of Cyprus Today, I was greeted with a headline which screamed out: “THIS IS NOT AN ENGLISH ONLY CHURCH” followed by a picture of yours truly.

For that newspaper had printed an extract of the Minutes of the ACM, which in fairness is publicly available on the parish website and which was sent to all members on the Electoral Roll.

But the part on which the headline focused was, as it was described in the Minutes, the “increasingly emotive debate on the subject” of observing the jubilee of Queen Elizabeth. And the headline proclaimed that: “REVEREND OPPOSES QUEEN’S PLATINUM JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS AT ST ANDREWS CHURCH”.

And for that I want to offer you my sincere apologies. Not for opposing jubilee celebrations, but for the fact that the first such prominent article about St. Andrew’s to appear in a local public newspaper in a long time was about a controversy which is about absolutely nothing at all to do with the future of the church. Unless, of course, you think that that future is to simply be the English Church here in Kyrenia. Which is a perfectly valid viewpoint, though not one which I can share.

What this issue has made me realise, once again – as it did when I took on the locum role following the debacle of the last Chaplain’s resignation – is that my being here and taking on the role of Incumbent has removed the real problem, the future direction of the parish, and allowed us to concentrate instead on matters of no importance. Instead of directing our energies towards whether St. Andrew’s has any future at all from a financial and, as I say, ministerial perspective, we worry about trivia.

We seem to have more discussion and interest both inside and outside the church on the Hermitage, rather than who will live there and how that person’s ministry can be supported.

And so, very reluctantly, I have to consider my position as Priest-in-Charge of this parish. By removing me from the picture it may again focus the minds of the members on just who will lead weekly worship, who will provide pastoral care, and who will be “in-charge”. The parish managed before through the pandemic, and it can manage again.

I’m sure there will be some who will think that all I’m doing is throwing my teddy out of the pram because I didn’t get my own way regarding the jubilee celebrations. That is their prerogative. But far from it. If it is the decision of the Church Council at their meeting tomorrow to proceed with such an event then I will support that decision.

As I said in my Incumbent’s Report at the ACM “I love St. Andrew’s and would do anything to support the parish” – interestingly that wasn’t picked up in the newspaper article. And I always said in the parish in which I was privileged to serve in Ireland, if I ever became a problem then I should leave.

I hold the same view today.

Fr Michael has now decided that the best interests of St. Andrew’s will be served by him stepping down from the post he currently holds.