A former Episcopal priest removed from the church after accusations of involvement with druidic activities has resurfaced with his own small, non-denominational congregation.
The Rev. William Melnyk, former rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Downingtown, resigned from the church in late 2004 amid investigations that he and his wife, the Rev. Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk, wrote two druidic ceremonies as suggestions for women’s liturgies. The druids were a Celtic sect that predates Christianity.
Melnyk said recently that Bishop Bennision agreed to reinstate him if Melnyk could agree to not write or speak about Celtic spirituality. Melnyk said he could not agree to those terms and that it became evident earlier this year that his reinstatement was not going to happen.
“So I then thought, here’s an opportunity to do church the way I think it ought to be done,” Melnyk said.
So in July, Melnyk began St. Brendan of the Ninth Wave, where he practices what he calls Celtic Christianity.
Melnyk said the druids were misunderstood by the church and many politically involved religious groups that were behind the allegations. He said the druids worshiped nature and that at the time when Christianity was being formed, the worship of nature and Christ often blended. He said the church got away from the appreciation of nature and that he disagrees with that approach.
Melnyk said his service will also focus on the winter solstice as well as the Christmas holiday.