Difficult times for all involved as pastor announces resignation
Updated: May 3, 2022
After a difficult few weeks for members of Green Pastures, contentions culminated on Sunday morning, May 1, with lead pastor Jeff Wright announcing he and his family would be leaving the church he founded.
News of the resignation was first reported this afternoon by Causeway Coast Community.
A married father-of-three, Pastor Jeff Wright established Green Pastures in the town back in 2007. The evangelical church's website describes him as its "lead pastor, founder and visionary".
Over the last 15 years the church has been involved with many initiatives in the community which have been recognised for having a positive impact, including its work with the Ballymena Foodbank.
The church recently moved from its Galgorm base to a new multi-million pound building and Gateway Project near Pennybridge in Ballymena.
Although Green Pastures (GP) has remained tight-lipped around the circumstances currently existing in the organisation, Love Ballymena received an unconfirmed report on April 12 that Pastor Jeff Wright had been suspended pending investigation.
At that time we asked GP for clarification and comment, and although we were told a statement would be forthcoming, this was not received.
Last Monday (25 April), an email was sent to the congregation from eight members of the church executive team, and was widely circulated on social media, revealing that those named had resigned their positions.
We understand that GP uses legally enforceable confidentiality agreements with their staff. In the email, the team members stated they could not ‘speak freely because of potential legal consequences’ for each of them personally.
The email continued, explaining that the pastor’s decision to circumvent the process initiated by the church board and oversight left the eight executive team members in an untenable position.
“It is our understanding that the Lead Pastor has formally informed the Board & Spiritual Oversight that he intends to disregard the process they put in place and that he will be returning to his duties tomorrow (Tuesday 26th April).
“In good conscience we can no longer sustain, endorse or prolong this situation.”
Pastor Jeff Wright did return to the ministry last week and invited church members to a meeting on Thursday evening (28 April) where according to our source, members were promised clarification.
At the meeting, we are told, “Jeff turned up with a file of messages that supported his position that he was in the right. He went on to blame the board for not following procedures.”
The source told Love Ballymena the pastor beckoned those present, “Let's do this… who’s with me?"
However, on Sunday Pastor Jeff Wright confirmed a change of direction as he announced his resignation at the end of the morning service.
Meanwhile, the Belfast Telegraph has stated that the Charity Commission ‘has been made aware of governance issues’ at the church.
The commission commented:
“The registered charity, Green Pastures, The People’s Church (NIC101855) has recently made the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland aware of some internal governance issues.
“The commission is monitoring the situation and engaging with the charity but an investigation has not been opened at this time.
“The commission is not in a position to comment further on this issue. This is because the commission is an effective and fair regulator of Northern Ireland charities, and as such, would not wish to discourage any parties from coming forward to the commission with confidential concerns or information about a charity, or prejudice any current or potential investigation.”
We once again asked Green Pastures for comment, but at time of publishing, we have received no response.
Although uncertain times for those who call Green Pastures ‘Home’, it is understood that plans are in place to allow the ministry to continue functioning, in what are times of extreme change.