Milton Keynes vicar apologises to parishioners after being caught drink-driving
A popular vicar who has been prosecuted for drink-driving has made a heartfelt apology to his parishioners from the pulpit.
Reverend Nick Evans was this month fined £1,605 and banned from driving for 16 months after driving home from a restaurant over the limit during Easter week.
And on Sunday he told his congregation at St Peter and St Paul Church in Newport Pagnell he was "truly sorry".
He said: "I stand before you remorseful and embarrassed...This was a foolish error of judgment on my part made under a string of concurrent particular stresses related to personal bereavement issues.
"It is inevitable that there will be gossip and talk around the town but I will say no more on this matter now but my door is always open if any of you want to talk to me directly or phone over the coming days. Your prayers and support would be greatly valued."
Rev Evans, 59, pleaded guilty to the offence and must now face disciplinary proceedings from his diocese. He could be forced to leave his post.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Oxford said: “Our clergy are called to an exemplary standard of moral behaviour.
There can be no separation between the public and home life of ministers and there can be no excuse for his actions. Drink-driving knowingly puts others at risk and it will not be tolerated by the Diocese of Oxford under any circumstances. The diocese is investigating the matter under its own disciplinary framework.”
But churchgoers in Rev Evans' parish of Newport Pagnell, Lathbury and Moulsoe say they have forgiven him and are hoping he will be allowed to stay.
"There is no excuse for drink-driving. He made a terrible mistake but it is Christian to forgive him," said one.
He added: "Rev Evans is a great vicar and he has brought so much to the parish since he's been here. The church has become a hub for the community again and we appreciate that."
The reverend, who is a former army chaplain ordained 35 years ago, runs healing sessions in church and has introduced a scheme to help ex offenders find work.
He told the Citizen: “It is true I was recently convicted of driving over the legal limit for alcohol. I acknowledge my lack of judgment and failure regarding this since church leaders should strive to set an example at all times."
He added: “I am deeply sorry for what has happened.”