Controversial vicar Keith bids farewell to his flock

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Mansfield’s controversial vicar Rev Keith Hebden is heading for pastures new, after taking up a senior academic post in Sheffield.

Rev Hebden, who has been based at Mansfield’s St Mark’s Church for the past four years, announced the news to congregation members this morning at a special Palm Sunday service (March 20).

In October 2013, Rev Hebden was convicted of criminal damage for his part in an anti-drone protest at a Lincolnshire airbase the previous July.

He was one of six activists who broke into RAF Waddington by cutting through the perimeter fence, planting a ‘peace garden’. He was subsequently fined £10.

Earlier that year the reverend laid down in the middle of a petrol garage forecourt in Mansfield, protesting over Government oppression in Burma.

More recently, the 40-year-old fasted for 40 days as part of a high-profile campaign to highlight food poverty, and reported for the Chad from the refugee camp in Calais known as the Jungle.

A regular columnist for the paper, he is also the author of Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus (2012), and Dalit Theology and Christian Anarchism (2010).

Rev Hebden has now been appointed as the new director of the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, and will take up the post in September.

Speaking about the appointment, he said: “UTU has a national reputation as a pioneer of theology and mission in the heart of our cities. I’m very much looking forward to leading this great institution as we find new ways to respond to the changing challenges our urban centres face today.”