Published: 11:01, 26 June 2014
A Sheppey church has had its locks changed and will be closed until later this year following concerns over spiritualist activity.
A statement released by the West Sheppey Benefice and the Canterbury Diocese said it had come to their attention that St Peter's, in Halfway, was being used for "unauthorised and inappropriate" activity.
The church, in Queenborough Road, will not reopen fully until September - although the monthly Communion service is due to restart this week.
Rev Tim Hall said there had been an issue with spiritualism - the belief that the dead can contact the living - which he said was unacceptable in a Christian church.
He added the closure was also due to the fact there were only 15 regular attendees at the church and there were not enough people to justify running Sunday services.
Former church warden Alan Rayfield said he and other members of the congregation felt the announcement had come out of the blue and they were shocked and dismayed they were unable to get into the building.
"It's been very strange and mysterious. People deserve an explanation..." - ex-church warden Alan Rayfield
He said: "It's been very strange and mysterious. People deserve an explanation."
However, Rev Hall explained he had been talking to members of the congregation and keeping them up to date with things all the way through the process.
He said changes need to be made to improve the situation - as had happened at Minster Abbey, which he now describes as a lively and popular church.
He added there was a danger that the church would shut completely if things stayed the same.
"St Peter's needs to go through some changes," said Rev Hall. "Nobody likes change, but what comes out of it is often better.
"We have paused for a bit, and people are going to other churches to see how they are doing things.
"I know it's difficult – it always is when your favourite place is shut – but sometimes you have to go through a bit of upheaval before things get going. I'm upbeat about the future."
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