A Church of England vicar has been sacked after a tribunal heard that he spat at parishioners, attacked churchwardens in sermons and was "arrogant, aggressive and rude", the church said.
The Reverend Tom Ambrose, of St Mary and St Michael Church, Trumpington, Cambridgeshire, was blamed for a "serious pastoral breakdown" that made it impossible for him to keep his job.
The Bishop of Ely, Dr Anthony Russell, ordered him to leave his post after studying a report from a rarely convened tribunal that met in London last September.
"The report discloses a lamentable situation," Russell said in a statement. "I am astonished and dismayed that there are recorded two occasions on which it is said that Dr Ambrose spat at parishioners."
The tribunal criticised Ambrose for his "rude, bullying, high-handed, disorganised and at times petty behaviour".
The trouble started soon after he joined the parish in 1999 and began to make changes:
* Ambrose upset some parishioners by using a computer slideshow during a Christmas Day service.
* He was also criticised for using so much incense that people felt unwell.
* He alienated some with plans to modernise the church by installing lavatories and removing a section of pews to create space for meetings.
* Others were angry over a decision to fell trees in the churchyard without consulting the Parochial Church Council and by changes to the date of the Harvest Festival supper.
* Ambrose also used sermons to criticise members of his flock. The bishop described that as "completely inappropriate".
The case received widespread media coverage last year, with newspaper headlines such as "Fear and loathing at the vicarage" and "Is this the rudest vicar in Britain?"
Ambrose denied there had been a pastoral breakdown and blamed a "gang of four" troublemakers bent on undermining him.
"Behaviour like that does not belong in a church," he told the tribunal. "It's like the kind of thing that goes on in the back of an unruly classroom."
He denied being aggressive and suggested that envy may have motivated his critics.
Ambrose, who could not immediately be reached for comment, must leave the post by July 9.
FANCY HAVING THE FORESIGHT TO PUT IN TOILETS, AND TO CREATE SPACE FOR PARISH MEETINGS. HONESTLY THESE PARISHONERS HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS, AS THE DAUGHTER OF A PRIEST, I HAVE WITNESSED FIRST-HAND THE ENDLESS CRITISIM AND NONSENSE 'CHRISTIAN PARISHONERS' DISH OUT, THINKING THEY HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO SAY WHAT THEY WANT. IT'S TOO SILLY FOR WORDS.