Hunt’s Shropshire carol service re-organised after online threats was ‘best supported ever’
The service for the United Pack was due to take place at St George’s Church in Clun in Shropshire on Sunday but was postponed after the Diocese of Hereford, which is responsible for the church, decided to cancel the service after comments from a member of the clergy on the Internet.
The event was subsequently moved to the community hall, where, according to the organisers, “turnout was reportedly greater than in previous years, despite the threats and deteriorating weather conditions outside”.
The service was led by a clergyman and was attended by members of the local hunting community as well as those from wider rural areas in general.
A United Pack spokesman said: “We had no doubt that our Christmas service would be held this year. It’s a key part of the festive calendar for many locals here, whether they hunt or not.
“We would never bow to threats from online bullies, but we understand how uncomfortable it can be for anyone who is being attacked.
“This was without a doubt the best supported service the United Pack has ever had.
“Participation was higher than usual, with more new arrivals than previous years, adding to the strength of the rural, community spirit and at this important time of year the rural community in the Welsh Marches was far better off for a joyful and heartfelt service.
In a statement last week, the diocese said a member of the church had been the subject of “a series of untruths that were circulated online.” It added: “Based on the advice of the police, we have taken the decision that the service will not continue. A number of untruths have been circulated online about a member of our clergy believed to be leading this ministry. The decision was made in the interests of her personal safety.
“Our churches remain open and welcoming to all, regardless of belief or worldview.”
Polly Portwin, Director of Campaign for Hunting at Countryside Alliance said: “The United Pack is held in incredibly high esteem in the local community and appreciates how important their Christmas service is to so many people.
“Although anti-hunting activists are few in number, they are routinely aggressive and often violent towards many in the rural community.
“It cannot be right that these tyrants are able to carry out their campaigns of terrorizing the rural population.
“We are calling on rural police to take their activities incredibly seriously, both for the safety of the hunting community and the general public.”