Harken to the word of Plod

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The Independent Online
When the Commercial Road Baptist Church in Hereford upgraded its PA system, the last thing they expected was that the new equipment would interrupt sermons with messages from on high. But the church sits below Hereford's main police transmission mast, and the last three months in church have been confusing ones as the word of God is interrupted by the word of Plod.

"Echo Alpha, incident at Symonds Yat Rock: climbers in difficulty. Please attend," the PA announced one morning in the middle of a sermon about Jesus being led up the mountain. The minister, the Rev Robert Harris, said: "I know God moves in mysterious ways, but it was unbelievable to hear someone asking for such assistance at such a time."

Most messages have less apparent relevance to the subject in hand. "I would be taking a service and then suddenly the congregation would hear a local police officer saying 'Echo Tango, there are reports of a disturbance in town. Please attend'," said Mr Harris. "The trouble is that it means that everyone is turning into the message from the police station and tuning off from the word of God.

"They can be disconcerting when I am trying to preach a sermon and we often have to pause in a service as it is impossible to concentrate. It also takes some time for the congregation to stop laughing," said Mr Harris.

The police have sent engineers to the church to try and sort out the problem, so far without success.