Members of a Rippingale church have had a “wrap on the knuckles” from a specialist court after installing festive tree lights without the proper permission.
Church council members narrowly avoided being fined for digging a 16-metre trench in St Andrew’s churchyard before laying an electrical cable underground for the Christmas lights last December.
The work went ahead despite warnings from the priest-in-charge, Rev Dr Lynda Pugh, for it to stop because no licence to carry out the work had been granted by the Diocese of Lincoln.
Dr Pugh said: “You can’t just dig in a churchyard because you’ve got to have an archaeologist involved to give an assessment if there are any significant finds. Also, a priest should be present to re-inter any human remains that become obvious with prayerful dignity.
“I did say very firmly three times that the work needed to stop as there was no regulation from the church council to do it.
“The work was well-meant, but ill-conceived, and the church court judge was very fair in telling our members to cut the cable at either end where it shows above ground and leave the rest buried.”
Lincoln Consistory Court, which decides on legal matters for church buildings, called the work at St Andrew’s “a serious mistake”. But in his ruling, Chancellor of Lincoln Mark Bishop added: “I am sure that (the workers) had the best of intentions to help the church.”