Worshippers have hit back at a vicar who claimed they forced him out of his parish.
The Reverend Mark Sharpe fled Worcestershire’s quiet Teme Valley because of what he said had been a “sinister” campaign of intimidation.
But the claims left his former flock mystified and feeling “intense hurt”.
They also denied Mr Sharpe’s view that the parish was toxic and this week met with the Bishop of Worcester John Inge.
Mr Sharpe is taking the diocese to an employment tribunal next year, claiming that they did nothing to help him.
Peter Thorneycroft, parochial church council secretary, said “Local people have remained silent for over three years since Mark Sharpe first made public his allegations, so far unproven.
“Despite the intense hurt that this has caused to dozens of people, some of whom have never even met Mark Sharpe, they intend to make no further comment until the outstanding issues have been resolved.”
Mr Sharpe, aged 42, said he was forced to leave the rectory in Hanley Broadheath along with his wife and four children after five years because his car tyres had been slashed and his dog poisoned.
He described how he feared for his safety after being confronted on his own doorstep by a figure acting like “a Mafia hitman”.
Mr Sharpe became the 14th vicar to leave the parish of Teme Valley South in just 40 years.
Rt Rev Inge said: “‘I have been greatly impressed by the gracious and dignified manner in which the people of Teme Valley South have coped with the dreadful allegations about their parishes being toxic.
“It is anything but.”
Mr Sharpe’s predecessors said they were baffled by his claims.
Paul Lack, who was rector between 1990 and 2001, said: “What I chiefly remember is the friendships we had within the churches and the way people worked together to make things happen.
“We were fortunate in having very good neighbours, who are still good friends today.”