A WAR of words has broken out after three leading Christian churches snubbed an event to bring women together in prayer.

The Church of England, Baptist and Methodist churches in Padiham rejected the invitation of the town's Unitarians for the Women's World Day of Prayer service.

Clergy said they had taken the decision because Unitarians did not believe in the Holy Trinity, that is the father, the son and the holy spirit.

But the Unitarian Church said that the decision was "pathetic" and an "insult".

Churches in Padiham take it in turns to host the service which is meant to be a global event of Christian unity on the first Friday in March each year.

This year's event is due to be at the Padiham Nazareth Unitarian Chapel, Church Street.

But it will only be attended by representatives from the Catholic faith because of the snub.

Life President of the Unitarian church Joyce Thompson said: "We have had problems with Pendle Street Baptist Church and St. Leonard's for about six years now. They do not invite us to their services.

"And they won't accept that we should have anything to do with it just because we are Unitarian. We invited them and they have just snubbed us.

"It's pathetic. It shouldn't matter what religion you are from. In today's age we should all be trying to join together. It is an insult to our church.

"I really don't know what is going through their minds."

Unitarians believe in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. But they maintain that Jesus was a prophet of God, but not God himself.

Women's World Day of Prayer's 2008 theme is 'God's Wisdom Provides New Understanding' and women from across the world will focus on this topic for their prayers.

But Rev Mark Jones, of St. Leonard's Church Padiham said they had rejected the offer as Unitarian's "deny virtually every one of crucial Christian doctrines".

He said: "I'm not quite sure how Padiham Nazareth Unitarian Chapel managed to hold the first 'Womens World Day Prayer', but the idea of the day is Trinitarian.

"We do not think that it is right for them to hold the service if they do not believe in the Trinitarianism.

"I respect that they have their own views but they shouldn't expect us to feel comfortable with them holding the service.

"The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is another Trinitarian concept so I don't know why they should feel like they should be invited."

Rev John G Hartley, of the Pendle Street Baptist Church, Padiham, revealed why they had rejected the offer.

He said: "They do not agree with the basic foundations the 'Women's World Day Prayer' is set upon: the belief in the father, the son and the holy spirit.

"We are not on our own here. The Church of England won't be attending.

"The reason we won't be attending is the prayer is formed by the Trinitarian churches on a belief the Unitarian do not believe in, full stop.

"It comes down to what we believe in and this is the core foundation of our faith-it would be wrong to attend.

"In the past we have invited them to attend but not take part. They can attend and sit in the church but they can't take part in the service."

No one was available for comment from St. John's R.C Church, St. John's Road, Padiham.

Howard Hague, spokesman for the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Churches, said that the movement often participated in Women's World Day of Prayer.

But he added: "It is not uncommon for Unitarians and ministers to be excluded from local church councils but it does vary from area to area. In some places Unitarian ministers are made welcome and in others they are basically told to go away.

"Most ministers would want to get involved and are invited to take part in activities but we do come across situations like this from time to time. Unitarians are not full members of some church bodies because they are not Trinitarians, so they are excluded in that way."