The rector of Northampton's main church says he is trying to “pick up the pieces” his predecessor left behind.
Father Oliver Coss said he is looking to build some stability within his parish after a breakdown between the former senior clergyman , Father David McConkey, and his congregation.
Back in September last year, the Chronicle and Echo reported on the resignation of Father David, who claimed in a newsletter that he was subject to ‘vilification’ and ‘rancour’.
In Father David’s letter he said: “No one needs to point out to me that there are some who have eagerly anticipated this day for several months now; and I’m obliged to say that I am certainly not naïve, though I well understand that the work of a parish priest is in many ways a political work and that politicians inevitably attract animosities.
“Never in my more than 40 years of work in churches have I encountered the animadversion, the rancour, the vilification that I have experienced at All Saints, Northampton.”
As a result, the Father Oliver, who has been serving the parish for nearly two weeks, wants to build bridges with the community.
Father Oliver said: “There are some widely publicised issues in the church that need settling down.
“My predecessor had a pastoral breakdown, where the relationship between the priest and the congregation breaks down - he departed September last year - so I’m trying to pick up the pieces of that.”
The new rector who moved to Northampton from Small Heath in Birmingham had his official welcoming ceremony on September 7.
He added: “Every parish has something different going on and where I was working before it was in an area that was very deprived and, usually, was forgotten about.
In the past, Father Oliver has not been afraid of speaking out about issues that he feels passionate about, such as child poverty and helping the homeless.
He said: “In the fullness of time I would like this church to be contributing to great stuff that’s already going on in Northampton for the homeless, the hungry and people who are in need.
“This parish is in the geographical part of Northampton that has the highest poverty and child poverty rates.
“Half of the kids on the Spring Boroughs estate are in poverty by the Government's measures. That, in the twenty-first century, can’t be right. It would be nice to address their concerns and support those kids as much as we can.
“If we can reach a broad cross-section of folk, and believe we are making a dent in their lives, then that is my main goal.”