Why the removal of a cross has made people cross at this Yorkshire Coast church

The removal of a wooden altar cross has caused controversy at Bridlington's Priory Church.

Sunday, 19th January 2020, 5:42 pm
Updated Sunday, 19th January 2020, 5:42 pm

Nine of the church’s congregation wrote letters to oppose the idea, with one even claiming that the removal had stopped some coming to church altogether.

It was also claimed that some people were making a point of consuming the host in an adjoining chapel, which does have a cross.

The Rev Matthew Pollard said that the decision to take the cross away was made because, at 4ft 6ins high, it was obscuring the central panel of an historic stone reredos.

The Rev Matthew Pollard, pictured outside Priory Church in 2018
The Rev Matthew Pollard, pictured outside Priory Church in 2018

Each panel of the reredos is carved with symbols representing the four gospels, with the middle depicting the Lamb of God.

“The reredos is quite significant,” he said. “It was designed by George Gilbert Scott, the famous church architect.”

Mr Pollard and churchwardens applied to remove the cross so that the reredos could be seen as originally intended.

But some parishioners were unhappy, saying the cross was a focal point in services and stressing it as the central symbol of their faith.

Some also complained that the cross was removed without any notice or discussion.

The removal had to be sent for consideration to Chancellor of Diocese of York Canon Peter Collier, who approved the plan.

In his decision report, he said: “The present position is that although many churches do give a cross a prominent position on or near the holy table it is by no means a universal practice.”

He also described the reredos as “full of Christian and gospel symbolism” and added: “It is a wholly fitting setting for the drama that will be enacted in front of it week by week.”

He concluded: “I am satisfied that there will be significant gain from displaying the reredos as originally intended.”

In their representation to Mr Collier, Mr Pollard and the church wardens said they regretted not notifying everyone and apologised.

Mr Pollard told the Bridlington Free Press: “People are clearly attached to their church building and understandably get very upset when things change.

“We’ve addressed the upset as well as we can.”