A church Dean is hoping that an unfortunate situation may have positive future ramifications for other communities.
The Dean of Cambridge's King's College Chapel apologized profusely following an incident where a father was informed that his son who is disabled would need to leave a church service.
On Father's Day, Dr. Paul Rimmer attended a church service at the Chapel with his two sons, of which one, Tristan, has autism. It was a family tradition for the group to attend the service, but it was Tristan's first time, reports Premier.
The group waited patiently, recalled Rimmer, for about half an hour before being allowed entrance into the service. When the group did enter, Tristan was fascinated by the church's beautiful ceiling and the singing in the service.
"Often when he enjoys things he laughs and he calls out and sometimes he does this fairly loudly and we were going through the service and he was doing this," Rimmer explained. "I was not aware that anyone was bothered by what he was doing."
An usher, however, approached Rimmer to inform him that his son's behaviour was distracting and disturbing others in attendance at the service. He then asked Rimmer and his son to leave.
Rimmer says he took time to explain the unique situation and his son's behaviour to the usher, who responded that Tristan's behaviour was still far too distracting and that the group would be required to leave.
The academic then describes an exchange that took place between himself and the user as a "misunderstanding in the heat of the moment," where Rimmer says he had the notion that their removal from the service had come from the Dean.
In response to a public letter that Rimmer penned about the affair, The Chapel's dean, Reverend Dr. Stephen Cherry has since apologized publically and spoken personally with Rimmer. He has assured and clarified with the father that he did not instruct the usher to have them removed from the service.
On his blog, the dean also wrote a public apology addressed to Rimmer expressing his extreme remorse over the situation.
"Every week we welcome thousands of people to services in King’s Chapel and we do our best to meet all their various needs and expectations," said Cherry. "Sometimes we fail and I realize that we especially failed you and Tristan on Sunday afternoon. I apologize for that most sincerely."
The dean also mentioned his hope that this situation, as unfortunate as it may be, might lead to better accommodation and understanding by churches for all in attendance.
"Since hearing of your experience I have looked into what happened and now more fully appreciate that there is more that we can do to support and help the staff who are responsible for the welcome that we give those who come to share our services with us."
Despite explaining that he did not give any instruction that Rimmer's son leave or be asked to leave the service, Cherry took responsibility for the situation in his letter, stating that he takes responsibility for "the whole life of the Chapel."
Rimmer said he was pleased with the response of the church to the situation following their removal, and with the positive conversation that took place following, emphasizing the importance of church inclusivity.