Messages of support have been flooding in for a churchgoer who fell in love with a vicar and gave birth to their child.
The Reverend David Huntley, from West Rainton, became vicar at St Lawrence’s, in Horsley Hill, South Shields,in 2011.
In 2014, the 52-year-old, who had divorced from his wife in 1998, began a relationship with single mother-of-two Charlene Goudie, who was one of his parishioners.
Their relationship developed and she became pregnant, giving birth to their child in October 2015.
After notifying his superiors of the situation, Rev Huntley, who had also previously worked in Houghton and Hartlepool, was banned from the church for two years following a ruling by the Bishop of Durham.
This was then upheld at a Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal of the Diocese of Durham and again under right to appeal in the Chancery Court of York earlier this year.
In an exclusive interview, Charlene says she and Rev Huntley hope to put the situation behind them and one day get married and be a happy family.
The 27-year-old said she and Rev Huntley became great friends and would talk for hours. After a while it became apparent they were in love and talked about what it would mean for them and what they wanted for the future.
It came as a shock when Charlene discovered she was expecting a baby.
She said: “It was never, ever an option to have a termination, we both said straight from the beginning.”
Charlene said having to step away from his work was so hard for David, even though the couple have accepted the penalty for their actions.
Dozens of readers have offered their support by sending messages on our of Facebook page.
Cheryl McDonald said: “Charlene is a lovely person and it’s a disgrace the way they have been treated. They fell in love and had a beautiful baby. How very lucky. Cherish it and don’t let this episode tarnish your beautiful relationship with each other.”
Deb Pulling believes the couple are just like everyone else.
She said: “Its just like millions of other people in this world doing exactly the same thing, so what is so special about this couple!”
Gemma Cain thinks the way the couple were treated was ridiculous. She wrote:
“The way the were treated, in this day and age I think it’s ridiculous and they should just ignore and enjoy their family.
Georgia Fuller added: “What a beautiful baby, I hope they’re very happy.”
Leslie Evans “There are far worse scandals in the church. This is nothing in comparison – let them be.”