Lifestyle & Human Interest

New Minister Threatens 73-Year-Old Chaplain for Refusing to Take Off 'Offensive' Cross, Then Things Take a Radical Turn


U.K. Chaplain Derek Timms found purpose and meaning in being a part of the staff of the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull, England.

Truly he would have been well equipped to minister to those in the hospice care center, given the fact he knew one of the most painful losses a person can ever experience — the passing of his wife.

The 73-year-old former businessman experienced that loss in early 2022.

Since Timms is a Christian chaplain, he liked to wear a cross, according to Christian Concern.

For him, it was both a symbol of his faith and a memorial to his late wife and their Christian marriage.

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So Timms would wear a small cross necklace as well as a tiny cross pin that was attached to his badge.

This particular cross pin, which was all of approximately a half-inch, contained some of his late wife’s ashes, according to Christian Today.

Timms had been working for Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull for about four years, and no one ever complained about either the necklace or the pin.

Then in September, the hospice center made a change to the chaplaincy program, stating that the chaplains would be referred to as “spiritual advisors.”

A new Methodist minister was hired to oversee the program, and after meeting with Timms, sent him an e-mail in which she expressed “surprise” that he was wearing crosses.

She asked him to “refrain” from wearing them so as to prevent anyone from being “offended.”

Her rationale was that people in the spiritual advisor program should, “appear neutral, and that enables a spiritual encounter that is about what the person we are visiting needs.”

Timms replied to the email, wanting to know why crosses are prohibited when his purpose for wearing one was that he wanted to show people that he’s a Christian chaplain.

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He went on to ask if Sikhs with turbans and Muslims wearing a burqua or prayer dress were prohibited from wearing their religious expressions of their faith.

Timms further stated, “My faith helps me to help the patients and staff whether they have faith or not. I assume that on Tuesday if I am wearing my cross I will be sent home.”

The Methodist minister suggested that he could keep his crosses in his pocket if he wanted to, but he could not display them outwardly.

She claimed that a cross was an affront to a “code of conduct” form, which he should have signed in connection to being a part of the organization, and that if he could not comply, that he’d need some, “re-training.”

Timms searched the website, policy documents and even the NHS website and found no such policy.

He ended up being forced out of the organization, turning in his ID badge, and soliciting the assistance of the Christian Legal Center in the U.K.

They referred the matter to the Marie Curie regional head office, who apologized.

The regional head office issued a response to Timms that read: “I can confirm that currently we have neither an organisational or uniform policy that would support our recent request to remove your cross while supporting patients and families in the Hospice. I apologize unreservedly for the distress that we have caused.”

Timms said he welcomes and appreciates the apology, but decided that his work as a chaplain “now lies elsewhere.”

Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Center, Andrea Williams released a statement in which she acknowledged that Timms showed “great courage by refusing to cave into the significant pressure to remove what mattered so much to him.”

She went on to encourage other chaplaincy “teams and leaders across the U.K. to not be ashamed of the Christian faith, but to uphold and cherish the crucial role Christian chaplains play in supporting people at the most vulnerable moments in their lives.”

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