Thinking Anglicans

Soul Survivor safeguarding complainants demand independent investigation

Updated Wednesday

We have failed to keep abreast of various recent developments in this safeguarding saga, see for example

The Diocese of St Albans issued this on 11 May: Soul Survivor Watford: a pastoral letter from the bishops

And today, the Telegraph reports: Internal church probe into Christian ‘cult’ leader not trusted by victims which quotes from a statement released on behalf of some of the survivors.

Full text of statement issued on behalf of Soul Survivor complainants:

In a statement released through solicitor Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon Lawyers, who is advising some of the complainants, a number of survivors of abuse in Soul Survivor said:

“The allegations against Mike Pilavachi are extremely serious. They clearly require comprehensive, independent and transparent investigation, covering both the allegations themselves and, crucially, the institutional response to those allegations, both within Soul Survivor and across the wider Church of England.

“Given the network of connections between Soul Survivor and the Church of England, we do not believe that any Church of England body, whether the Diocese of St Albans or the National Safeguarding Team, can plausibly conduct an independent, objective and transparent investigation at this time. There are simply too many connections between the Church of England and Soul Survivor, both at diocesan and national level, and too many potential conflicts of interest, for survivors to have confidence in the independence and transparency of any church-run investigation.

“By way of example, Justin Welby has been personally involved in Soul Survivor over many years. One trustee of Soul Survivor (until last month) is also a trustee of the Lambeth Trust, the Archbishop’s personal charity. A senior figure in Soul Survivor is the son of a senior Church of England Bishop.  These are just some examples of the intimate and longstanding network of connections between Soul Survivor and senior figures in the Church of England.

“The days when churches could plausibly investigate themselves and mark their own homework are long gone.   Accordingly, we call upon the Church of England  and specifically the CofE National Safeguarding Team (1) to accept that a trusted independent agency should be appointed to conduct this investigation (2) to engage with survivors in the selection of such an agency and the drafting of any terms of reference, so that any investigation can be truly independent and have the confidence of survivors from the outset”

Update

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this: Archbishop of Canterbury statement on Soul Survivor

…The investigation, which is being led by safeguarding professionals from the National Safeguarding Team and the Diocese of St Albans, is independent from Soul Survivor and has my full support…

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David Lamming
David Lamming
1 year ago

This call for an investigation truly independent of Soul Survivor, St Albans Diocese, the NST, and any other C of E body, is wholly justified and demands a swift acceptance by the NST and the lead safeguarding bishop, Joanne Grenfell. It echoes the call by Martyn Percy, now accepted by the ISB in its recent statement on the ISB website, urging the Archbishops’ Council “to act with urgency to ensure that an independent review is commissioned” into his allegations of “the weaponization of safeguarding by individuals and agencies within Church of England perpetrated against him.” The ISB added, “Professor Percy’s… Read more »

Matthew Ineson
Matthew Ineson
1 year ago

There must ALWAYS be genuine independent investigations/reviews. Thr church must have no controlling power or influence. Anything less is always unacceptable

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
1 year ago

Am I being naive in wondering how evangelical Canon Pilavachi reconciled the oily, homoerotic rubdowns with his constituency’s view of same sex activity? The closet has a lot to answer for.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

Pilavachi claims that celibacy frees him to do things that having a family would be made more difficult. I suppose if he’d been a married man he’d have much less time to administer oily massages to young men.

Last edited 1 year ago by FrDavid H
Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

Apparently in the Church of England there is a distinction to be found between “inappropriate massages” and “appropriate massages”. Now that’s a document I’d like to read: the one in which it explains the “appropriate massages” that a middle-aged man might give teenagers.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Interested Observer
1 year ago

Brilliant, you cannot pastiche some of this stuff.

James
James
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

Is it homoerotic? Or do we see what we want to see? Teenage boys love to wrestle and can be very tactile with each other, but in a mock combative way, unlike the way that teenage girls are tactile with each other. Sports massages are also a male thing. Was Pilavachi unwise? Obviously. A lot of work with teenagers – a very hormonal bunch – can get that way, and I would never take a young person into a private place.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  James
1 year ago

It can be innocent teenage play, and still homoerotic, or it can be something more troubling depending on the context. There is extensive anthropological literature, and some literature from the UK (see Edward Carpenter and Havelock Ellis) describing how in cultures where access to women for sex is difficult, men can develop erotic feelings towards each other, and this can develop into physical signs of affection, and then horseplay, and even sexual activity. This has been openly accepted by some cultures and incorporated into their traditional customs, and be “under the radar” in other cultures. Many men may engage in… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

Simon there was a Mrs Smyth as she was present when he was doorstepped by Cathy Newman for C4. I’d also say that abuse is always abuse whatever the circumstances. I doubt that it would stop if the church changed its position on sex outside of marriage. We don’t have all the facts but from what is in the public domain, Canon Pilavachi seems to be a highly manipulative man who has indulged his inadequacies.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

Fr Dean. For the avoidance of doubt I need to say that I agree with you that abuse is always abuse, and about the ability of manipulative people within hierarchical institutions like the church to use their power to meet their own needs, whatever those needs are. Both are wrong and such risks need to be managed. But I do think that if the church did change its position on sex outside marriage, and on homosexuality, then it might make it more likely that many more people in the church would find ways of developing healthy and appropriate adult erotic… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

But I do think that if the church did change its position on sex outside marriage, and on homosexuality, then it might make it more likely that many more people in the church would find ways of developing healthy and appropriate adult erotic relationships I find that argument rather less than compelling. Mike Pilavichi, born 1958, qualified as an accountant, presumably in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I am not saying that accountancy is musical theatre, but I would take a fair amount of convincing that in the 1980s it was an environment in which it is impossible to… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Interested Observer
Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

The acid test is simple:
“Whose needs are being met by these activities?” If there is an element of clandestine conduct by an older leader the question is probably already answered

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

It can be innocent teenage play, and still homoerotic, or it can be something more troubling depending on the context.  And in either event, it is for the teenagers alone to consent to, participate in and discuss with others. No matter how innocent sexual activity is between teenagers, what is entirely unacceptable is for a sweaty middle-aged bloke to encourage and observe, still less take part, and that goes a fortiori when he is in a position of power. Was Pilavachi unwise?  Did I miss a stop and wake up back in the 1950s? I think we are long, long… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Interested Observer
1 year ago

IO, It seems from your post, and also from Martin Sewell’s above, that I may have given the impression that I am defending the people I named. I am not, and in my original post I clearly labelled it abuse, and problematic, and a failure to manage a vocation to celibacy. I just wanted to try to join up the dots, and make the point that if the church had a healthier attitude to sex, then fewer people might end up carrying out such abusive and possibly criminal behaviours. We are expending huge amounts of cash and manpower managing safeguarding… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

ask ourselves why the church is so prone to such problems One possibility is that churches are pressure cookers in which perfectly legitimate, non-abusive sexual relationships are pathologised. A common apologia for the problems in the Catholic church is that they are a consequence of celibacy. In this narrative, the abusers are otherwise decent people who went astray because of the environment in which they found themselves. Another possibility is that churches are environments filled with naive young people, an atmosphere of loyalty and secrecy and a lot of opportunities for abusers to abuse, and therefore naturally attract people whose… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Interested Observer
1 year ago

Interested Observer. I seem to be making a lot of posts on this thread. But it is a subject that interest me, and where I have some personal experience, and so I hope you, and others, will forgive me if I keep posting. You hide behind a pseudonym so I wonder what personal experience you are speaking from. You seem to expect people to be entirely rational beings who make logical decisions based on all available and non-available data, and even things they won’t know until some time in the future. But I don’t think people work that way. In… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

In my own Armed Forces story I decided to join up in my mid-late teens when I was only vaguely aware of the issue of homosexual illegality, and not sure about my own sexuality (having been to an all-boys school). Homosexuality was legalised when Mike Pilavachi was nine. I’m entirely happy to believe that the Greek Cypriot community wasn’t quite as accepting as others, but someone who moved from accountancy to evangelical stuff in 1993, at the age of 35, knew what they were getting into. They could also, at any point, have gone back to accountancy if they didn’t… Read more »

DaveS
DaveS
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

That’s a fascinating comment, Simon. A few thoughts… In the church, being a single man in any form of full-time ministry makes you very desirable. And there’s more women than men in churches, so finding a wife isn’t difficult. Pilavachi started as youth worker at St Andrews Chorleywood no later than 1989, when he was 31. He’s had 34 years when, if he wanted to be married, he could basically have picked any single woman he fancied. So clearly there is something about him that we are not aware of – I thought I understood it, but now I’m not… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  DaveS
1 year ago

Thanks for engaging with my post. DaveS. There’s that John Major quote on crime, ‘Society needs to condemn a little more and understand a little less.’ And whilst we certainly need to condemn where appropriate, if that’s all we do, and we never seek to go beyond that and understand the causes of an issue, then things will never improve. It is my understanding that the human sexual drive is strong, and if supressed for whatever reason it may sublimate and reappear in some other form, perhaps linked to pain and power. And in these contexts “gay” or “straight” may… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  DaveS
1 year ago

Pilavachi gives the impression that he voluntarily chose to be celibate as a sacrificial decision to be more available for God’s work. Many women may have been available to him to become his subservient wife, but he valiantly resisted the temptation to marry one of them. Since celibacy is not usually an evangelical tenet, it is obviously a cloak to make sexual repression sound more respectable. Pilavachi seems not to have massaged attractive young women. Only handsome young men were the objects of his desire. It seems that an organisation attracting 30.000 youngsters has been led for years by an… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

Indeed. Occam’s razor says that a gay man who likes sex with handsome teenage boys but at the age of 35 was finding it harder to find handsome teenage boys to have sex with, took a job that would give him access to handsome but vulnerable teenage boys. As a bonus, he found an environment in which not only was safeguarding virtually non-existent but in which people would make desperate excuses to avoid doing anythiong about it. It was entirely pre-meditated.

Anything else is needless elaboration of what happened.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

“Since celibacy is not usually an evangelical tenet”.

Are you sure about this?

Perhaps heterosexuals may be encouraged to get married, but for us homosexuals celibacy is absolutely an evangelical tenet.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

Gay evangelical clergy often don’t identify as being homosexual, but claim to define their sexuality as being “in Christ”. They seem too ashamed to admit their God-given nature, so adopt a pious self-identification to describe their unwanted same-sex attraction.. Whilst celibacy is expected, sadly it leads only to repression and insufferable bigotry.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

I agree there is some truth is what you say, about quite a few gay evangelical clergy, but we need to be careful not to stereotype. Other gay evangelical clergy are actually quite well balanced, and may even have a very happy sex life, either with a long term same-sex partner, or an occasional hook-up, but of course they might keep that sort of thing a bit quiet. It is a truth not widely realised that whilst the abusive sexual activities of many “celibate” priests are increasingly coming to public knowledge, other “celibate” priests have a very healthy “under the… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Dawson
Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

Evangelicals generally expect anyone who is not married to be celibate. In that sense celibacy is definitely an evangelical tenet. Indeed, I can think of at least two male evangelical leaders who let it be known they had opted for celibacy. (One is now married.)

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  James
1 year ago

So just a new slant on the laying- on of hands??

Katy Adams
Katy Adams
Reply to  James
1 year ago

Who initiated the massages? Who had the status, the authority, the power? Who was older?

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  James
1 year ago

Although we’re told the police are not pursuing the matter, I’d hazard a guess that Canon Pilavachi will face a disciplinary action for ‘behaviour unbecoming a clerk in Holy Orders’. I imagine the relevant archdeacon will be preparing the paperwork pronto.

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Fr Dean
1 year ago

Yes, though whether preparation of the necessary paperwork will be ‘pronto’ remains to be seen: I suspect that any such action will await the outcome of the investigation – now with calls for this to be truly independent of the C of E. It is to be noted that the statement about the investigation read out at Soul Survivor Watford services on 2 April 2023 (and to be found on its website), “issued jointly on behalf of the Church of England National Safeguarding Team, the St Albans Diocese, and the Soul Survivor Watford trustees” said: “We would like to stress… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by David Lamming
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  James
1 year ago

The clue is in the Telegraph’s report that Pilavachi selected only “athletic handsome young men” to undergo his ministerial extras. Presumably less attractive males learned that not all people are equal under God because the Vicar prefers good-lookers.

mike the rev
mike the rev
1 year ago

There are far too many interconnections and conflicts of interest here to permit anything other than a completely independent investigation. The implications seem likely to escalate and, like the Smyth case, there are big questions for the evangelical wing to face up to. Is the lone charismatic leader with the burgeoning megachurch full of young people ever a good way to go? Even if they are part of a team, if they’ve been around a long time their ‘hallowed reputation’ means that accountability gets too easily shelved in favour of evident success. Until one day the floodgates open………

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  mike the rev
1 year ago

The crucial difference between this and Smyth is lead time. By the time Smyth’s offending came under public scrutiny much time had passed, and many of the principals were retired, in ill-health and/or dead. Record keeping was poor, there was an opaque web of private school networking and disinterest from the police. For all the attempts to talk about this as being historical, that has now been rescinded: this is current abuse under current safeguarding regimes by current employees. Over on Reddit people are saying that the offending was known, or at least rumoured, amongst people working for soul survivor.… Read more »

Trish
Trish
1 year ago

I see that the Vineyard Churches UK has released a Facebook statement telling anyone affected to get in touch with the NST. As someone who has very difficult memories of the invasive charismatic ministry I was subjected to (not related to the current allegations) by a combination of the New Wine/Soul Survivor movement and Vineyard church I completely agree that the review needs to be completely independent of any church and allow for far more professional curiosity than those allegations currently proposed for review.

Francis James
Francis James
1 year ago

Defending the wrestling is very troubling. Not only is it very different when an adult wrestles with teenagers in his charge, but peer pressuring young people to take part is bullying, plain & simple. 

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Francis James
1 year ago

As with many safeguarding enquiries in other spheres of life , whether the police are involved would probably depend on the age of the athletic young men …. If they were over 18 and gave some form of consent, or had been bullied into it this is probably not a crime ….( it needs something like extortion to make it one)
So the well worn mitigation of ‘there is no police involvement’ covers a multitude of sins

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
1 year ago

I agree Susanna. Was what he is alleged to have done illegal? Most probably not, from what I’ve read, though coercion remains a grey area. Was it inappropriate for one holding the office (and leadership roles) he held? Absolutely. Was it immoral? It all depends on the intention. Whilst none of us can second guess what was in his mind, all the evidence of victim selection and other aspects of his modus operandum suggests it was to me. That’s before we get to the allegations of emotional and spiritual abuse. Will there be police interest? I wouldn’t like to call… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
1 year ago

I have already written to the Bishop of Bedford (who is handling this on behalf of the Diocese of St Albans) pointing out some apparently serious governance failings in Soul Survivor Watford, and will write a second letter urging him and the other players, NST etc, to get real and outsource the entire matter, which is clearly massively more serious than first thought (disclosures of non-recent abuse was a forlorn hope, and in any event no less serious for victims and survivors).

WYH
WYH
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 year ago

AA, thank you. The present system of “in-house” scrutiny is not ft for purpose. The leadership needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Conflict of interest is not understood and the situation is dire.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
1 year ago

Is this a repeat of the 9 Oclock Service in Sheffield in another form?
Jonathan

Judith Maltby
Judith Maltby
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
1 year ago

Jonathan, I think there has never been a proper investigation/review into the NOS in Sheffield. My memory (this was some time ago – it blew up in the mid-1990s) was that there was going to be one, but it was squashed. Maybe others can provide more information.

Charles Read
Reply to  Judith Maltby
1 year ago

I do not know about a NOS investigation but I was doing a very small amount of teaching on the Northern Ordination Course when NOS was in full swing and its leader was training there. NOC had no clue about anything untoward happening back in Sheffield but I do recall some disturbing parallels with Soul Survivor – the leader being ordained early for example.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Judith Maltby
1 year ago

This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxwdyF3qZj8 is a documentary which looks at NOS. Also there is Roland Howard’s book “The Rise and Fall of the Nine O’Clock Service”. The documentary has some comments by the then Bishop of Sheffield about accountability and enquiry (at 44 minutes). So often it seems to be journalists who take the time to learn and tell the story. The question “what does an enquiry actually achieve?” is one we all need to attend to, because then we might be more real about the answer to “how can we set up an enquiry which delivers what we actually need?” Whose… Read more »

Charles Read
Reply to  Mark Bennet
1 year ago

I have just watched that video, which i had not seen before. Don’t know how I feel about hearing Chris Brain’s voice again – i was one of those he fooled. The bishop of Sheffield’s comments at the end (about 45mins in) are eerie – he says it is not likely to happen again and blames the permissive society! Video worth a watch – including by all bishops and archdeacons.

pam Walker
pam Walker
Reply to  Charles Read
2 months ago

is that not victim blaming?

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  Judith Maltby
1 year ago

As I remember it, and v happy to be corrected, the ‘investigation’ was certainly not proper, but carried out by the Bishop of Sheffield and the relevant Archdeacon, ie the very people who, along with George Carey, had the most to explain, apparently with the express intention of exonerating them? Perhaps the most heinous example of the Church ‘marking its own homework’, though since the C of E has spent 40 years refining that activity, there is very strong competition for that title. Don’t believe that one victim’s succinct description of the whole awful business (‘clergyman gets his rocks off… Read more »

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
1 year ago

The key issue is ,of course, that it’s not about sex, it’s always about power.
The underlying theme that runs through John Smyth, Iwerne Trust, Peter Ball, Chris Brain, David Fletcher, Titis Trust, Iain Broomfield, Jonathan Fletcher, now MP apparently, & many more past, present & future is that it is all about power.
And of course the C of E’s response, which for at least the last 40 years and continuing into 2023, has been utterly inadequate.

robert
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
1 year ago

An unfortunate typo of Titus there!

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  robert
1 year ago

I stand corrected on my typo, but clearly should have added Rev Jim Cannon to that list. You may not (or may) agree with Nadine Dorries’ politics but one cannot deny that it is yet another example of the C of E behaving inappropriately and unacceptably with abuse and whistleblowers, as it has throughout (at least) the last 40 years. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-12086741/NADINE-DORRIES-know-Church-covers-child-abuse.html Everytime, starting with Peter Ball, the C of E has backed the ordinands and ignored the (many) victims and whistleblowers, it actively supports, enables and encourages all the abusers that follow. If Peter Ball can get away with it,… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
1 year ago

I am sure you are right, Adrian, that it is fundamentally about power. But there is another, perhaps blindingly obvious, connection. With the exception of Peter Ball, all the people and organisations you list are strongly evangelical (and even Peter Ball was considered to be an ‘evangelical’ Anglo-Catholic). From the evangelical perspective, any person who is attracting large numbers of new people, especially new young people, to church must be overwhelmingly a good thing, where it is hard to believe that there may be anything malicious at work. But, time and again, we find that there is. And it seems… Read more »

Andrew Carey
Andrew Carey
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
1 year ago

‘Blindingly obvious’? Really? Timeline suggests that Ball’s and Smyth’s abuse flourished under Archbishop Runcie. Eric Kemp was hardly evangelical yet child abuse apparently flourished in Chichester on his watch.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Andrew Carey
1 year ago

Well, I did say ‘perhaps’, and I was specifically referring to the list in ‘Adrian’s post, to which I was replying. I was afraid of being criticised for stating the obvious.
I was not suggesting that abuse had not occurred in other churchmanships, and I apologise if I gave that impression.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
1 year ago

Just to touch upon your final paragraph, there seems to be a tendency amongst senior clergy to believe that the adoption of a particular stratagem (often without sufficient preliminary analysis) will result in a certain outcome, and will somehow reverse decline. Thus we have the Call to the Nation (1975), the Decade of Evangelism (1988) and Renewal and Reform (2015). In other words, if only people are shown the right way, they will come. It is unsurprising that people who have invested their life’s work in the presumption that ‘God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year’… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
1 year ago

Indeed. The operating assumption seems to be that the Church needs to do new and different things. An alternative hypothesis, which has never been properly tested, is that the things most faithful people are already doing are the best things they could be doing, but they are chronically under resourced. The battery of new regulations from safeguarding to health and safety to banking and charity governance have also taken resource away from the actual activity and mission of the front line.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Froghole
1 year ago

Many thanks for your perceptive analysis of the CofE’s decline. I have read with interest in earlier threads your ideas for how the church could use its substantial capital to broker a deal with the government whereby the latter would take responsibility for the buildings, leaving the church free to concentrate on mission and ministry. But I fear that that ship has sailed some time ago. There have been governments in the past which might have been amenable to such a deal, but I can’t see it happening now. But, if only for the sake of the built heritage, something… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
1 year ago

There have also been a number of abusers from other wings of the C of E, such as Bp Whitsey and Vickery House. Most of the abusers from Chichester Diocese were high church, with the exception of Gordon Rideout.

Someone ought to do a research degree on the relationship between churchmanship and abuse. I suspect that the extremes are better places for offenders to hide, because they often have a stronger emphasis on the authority of the minister. But I recall at least one case where the convicted offender was of moderate churchmanship.

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 year ago

Thanks for this reply. As stated in my reply to Andrew Carey above, I wasn’t suggesting that abuse only occurs in evangelical settings, only that ‘Adrian’s list of cases was largely confined to that churchmanship. It is a good point you make about ministerial authority possibly making it easier to hide abuse at both extremes of churchmanship. Without wishing to minimise the seriousness of any case of abuse, there does seem to be a quantitative if not qualitative difference in these large youth-focused services with a charismatic, idolised leader, which appear to have facilitated abuse on an almost industrial scale,… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 year ago

Referring to my posts elsewhere in this thread, might it be something to do with the emphasis placed on celibacy within the various traditions, either an expectation for abstinence outside formal marriage, or within same-sex relationships. I agree that there may be other factors as well. Perhaps it’s a bit like the “Fire Triangle” we are taught in health and safety. For a fire to spread you need heat, fuel and oxygen. Take any one away and the fire goes out. Is there an “Abuse Triangle” which incorporates 1) unmet sexual need within 2) an abusive personality, operating within 3)… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Simon Dawson
1 year ago

Yes, that’s a very good point.

Andrew Carey
Andrew Carey
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
1 year ago

Absurd claim about George Carey and NOS. Sounds like some personal animosity. Happy for Adrian to contact me and explain why he thinks George Carey has most to explain. My email is carey.andr@gmail.com.

James
James
Reply to  Andrew Carey
1 year ago

I agree, the Nine O’Clock Service scandal had nothing to do with George Carey, it was the responsibility of the Bishop of Sheffield Jack Nichols and Archdeacon Stephen Lowe, and the Northern Ordination Course, which fast-tracked Chris Brain for ordination: a friend of mine on NOC at the time said Brain was exempted from some of the courses and effectively given incumbent powers and responsibility, which no newly ordained person is. So it was a failure of oversight and discernment. Stephen Lowe certainly felt cheated as he had given a fair bit of his own money to NOS for its… Read more »

Charles Read
Reply to  James
1 year ago

There’s a lot here that is wrong… (and key things that are right!) The bishop of Sheffield was David Lunn. Jack Nichols came later to Sheffield. NOC, like all TEIs, just does what the sending diocese says. While we make recommendations about ordaining someone it is the bishop who decides. Where someone is ordained early (before completing training), that is because the bishop has so decided – I have never known this idea to come from the TEI.NOS was providing what was then called Alternative Worship. (Nowadays Fresh Expressions) . Alternative to what? Not actually to ‘traditional’ worship but to… Read more »

James
James
Reply to  Charles Read
1 year ago

The only thing I got wrong was the then Bishop of Sheffield’s name. It was David Lunn, as you said. Brain was indeed fast tracked and NOC agreed. I didn’t say it was their idea. Zey ver only following orders, My friend who did NOC then said Brain didn’t do all the courses as she did. I think they were in awe of him because he already had a big youth cult following, not because he had intellectual or spiritual depth. He didn’t. He would spout off stuff from Moltmann that he didn’t understand, which made him sound deep and… Read more »

robert
Reply to  James
1 year ago

Maybe there was a general culture back then of exempting from bits of courses, saves time both the the person concerned and of the busy trainers. I was exempted vast bits of the Reader ministry training in the 70s because I had a theology degree I regret missing out on the more practical parts of the course!

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  robert
1 year ago

I well remember my training incumbent returning from a visit to Sheffield, saying that Brain was to be fast-tracked to ordination. It was pretty much unheard of at the time, at least for someone with no previous theological qualifications.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
1 year ago

According to Roland Howard’s book, 4 women had independently complained to the archdeacon of sexual abuse at NOS, and they had all been ignored. An in-house investigation was never going to make much of that – and the archdeacon was afterwards promoted to bishop.

I don’t see what George Carey had to do with it – NOS wasn’t even in his province.

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 year ago

Janet, Response contd More detail is available online including the following: Rise And Fall Of The Nine O’clock Service [PDF] [4vm5pqijn5a0] vdoc.pub blob:https://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/bc98362f-9ed0-43fb-9d4d-634866bb8e1d Many of the victims are very critical of George Carey and the Church leadership across this 1995 50 min BBC programme, Breach of Trust.  Particularly revealing as regards CB & the NOS culture/abuse: mins 11 to 20, 24 to 36, 42 to end  What this programme reminds us is that despite the fact that the worship styles are so utterly different, NOS exhibited so many identical ‘cult behaviours’ to the John Smyth cult (and all/many other religious… Read more »

‘Adrian’
‘Adrian’
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
1 year ago

Janet, Between TA and me, the original Part 1 got lost, so assuming TA can’t retrieve it, here is a less detailed substitute as I don’t have the time to recreate the more detailed original. Hopefully the great thing about TA is that we can all investigate the full facts about Peter Ball & NOS & reach our own conclusions without abusing others. I appreciate that is difficult for those with family loyalties to defend. A key point is that the explicit public approval of George Carey and the C of E leadership, given without any appropriate checks and balances,… Read more »

Andrew Carey
Andrew Carey
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
1 year ago

I’ll confine myself to a short comment. Of course, the buck stops at the top – always does – but that doesn’t mean that those at the top are responsible for every decision. Sheffield is in the Northern Province and John Habgood was Archbishop at the time. Interestingly he had retired when those abused came forward, so Cantuar was the Archbishop for oversight at this point in time. Nevertheless, Stephen Lowe was very much in control of all that happened and especially what journalists were told, what counselling was provided and how the diocese liaised with police etc. The hierarchy… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Andrew Carey
1 year ago

Robert Warren was heavily involved in the Church Growth Movement (of which I’ve always been suspicious) and advised a number of churches on growth strategies, including St Michael-le-Belfrey. His appointment as Director of Evangelism, as Andrew says, was not due solely to the NOS experiment. I can see why survivors of Brain’s abuse might feel angry at church leaders who, like Carey, seemed to make much of Brain and NOS. I wouldn’t take as gospel truth Brain’s account of a meeting with Carey, though. And there was a lot of naivety and taking apparently successful people on trust in those… Read more »

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 year ago

There might have been those who took people on trust but we now know that a lot of people knew what was happening at the time re Saville, Harris, Epstein, Weinstein, R Kelly, and they either turned a blind eye because they brought in the money or the abusers had money or knew those who had and who could cover for them. Power seems to be an effective tool to dismiss complaints as wrong or suggest the accusers are wrong, ill or hysterical in some way. While the abusers are useful to the institution the cover up continues whether it’s… Read more »

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Marise Hargreaves
1 year ago

Meanwhile, the church has an aspiration to form ten thousand new congregations in the current decade. It seems that many of these will be formed outside the existing parochial structure (the “mixed ecology”). So we may expect to see hundreds or even thousands of “non-standard” congregations semi-detached from existing church structures as SS or NOS were. What steps, if any, have been taken to ensure that adequate safeguarding arrangements will be in place for the thousands, even millions, of people predicted to be involved? The answer, I guess, is none, and part of the reason for that is that the… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Unreliable Narrator
Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
1 year ago

I don’t know who comes up with these numbers or ideas. It is fantasy island. It would need serious plans to monitor and hold accountable what is taking place in what could be private houses. It is dangerous and ill thought out. The only saving grace is it probably will not actually happen. The truth about many groups is coming out and the nasty reality is being exposed. I suspect more is to come. In the real world people have moved beyond the increasingly bizzare and irrelevant world of church. I meet more and more people who believe but have… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  ‘Adrian’
1 year ago

I’m not disputing George Carey’s responsibility in the Ball case. But as far as I’m aware the responsibility for NOS, and for Brain’s fast-tracking to ordination, lay squarely with Sheffield Diocese?

I met Brain and several of his acolytes in about 1991 and thought he and the set-up were creepy. But a lot of (mainly male) leaders were bowled over by him. Some of them kept very quiet about it when the whole thing blew up in 1995, and several were afterwards promoted.

James
James
Reply to  Janet Fife
1 year ago

I think Stephen Lowe was the archdeacon. He was a strong financial contributor to NOS and he complained afterwards that he felt tricked by Brain (I won’t make the Star Wars joke) and as you say, wax made a bishop afterwards and therefore beyond criticism.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  James
1 year ago

Yes, it was Lowe. I wasn’t intending to name him!

Janet henderson
Janet henderson
1 year ago

Time and time again, serious abuse allegations and/or the inadequacy of the Church of England’s responses have been shown to involve people in senior leadership positions in the church. The CofE is established and its ability to make law is delegated to it by parliament. It is now time for Parliament to recognise its responsibilities, take control of the situation, and create a fully independent body to investigate and hold the church to account over matters of abuse. I suggest something ongoing along the lines of a Select Committee with access to the Scrutiny Unit (which provides expertise to select… Read more »

Stephen Wikner
Stephen Wikner
Reply to  Janet henderson
1 year ago

Do you honestly think bringing parliament into the mix would improve matters? One thing’s for certain, doing so would slow things down still further. But at least MPs would be familiar with the concept of marking one’s own homework although whether they’ve yet recognised that this is not a good idea, I’m far from certain.

Janet henderson
Janet henderson
Reply to  Stephen Wikner
1 year ago

If you look at the time parliamentary committees and inquiries take and compare them with the church’s ‘independent’ inquiries, they move faster. (Often the comparison is months as against years or a decade.) It was striking how quickly the church finally moved on women bishops once parliamentarians brought pressure to bear. I offer this suggestion as the only way out of the current situation I can see. At present working diocesan bishops can’t effectively be held to account. With the exception of the former bishop of Lincoln, no working diocesan has been suspended during an inquiry into safeguarding concerns because… Read more »

Stephen Wikner
Stephen Wikner
Reply to  Janet henderson
1 year ago

You may of course be right but I wouldn’t hold my breath over parliamentary proceedings however they’re defined. But with one thing I am complete agreement: the CofE cannot go on as it is The managerialism that has characterised the current Lambeth Palace incumbency has been an unmitigated disaster and nowhere is this clearer than in the way safeguarding is currently handled. To put it as kindly as I can, it’s all too complicated. It ought not to be possible for the former Primate of England and the current ‘lead bishop’ on safeguarding to say, “it ain’t my job, guv”… Read more »

Janet henderson
Janet henderson
Reply to  Stephen Wikner
1 year ago

I agree. A new way forward to allow independent inquiries and independent on-going scrutiny (different things) has to be found. Also a way to ensure the independent authority or a designated person has the power to insist correct procedure is implemented across every diocese, encompassing the actions of diocesan bishops as well as other office holders and employees.

Last edited 1 year ago by Janet henderson
Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stephen Wikner
1 year ago

For me, the most difficult and depressing thing about the response of certain figures within the Church (the actual revelations of abuse aside) has been the alacrity with which they make appeals to ‘Church law’ or entertain the notion that, in order to conserve the discretion and authority of the episcopate, they need special arrangements that are separate from that which applies to any other organisation operating in the real world. Ecclesiastical law has almost always been inadequate and unpopular throughout the history of England, and what survives of it is largely a small residuum. It was also sometimes quite… Read more »

James
James
1 year ago

Having read all the report now, I can see what a tortured soul Trevor Devamakkinan was and can only wonder how he was in ordained ministry. He had presumably long left any pastoral work at the time Matthew Ineson made his complaints in 2012?
Did the bishops concerned know about his mental health problems and attempted suicide?

Ex clergy
Ex clergy
1 year ago

I have read this about Soul Survivour with interest. I have been in various situations which although not portrayed like Soul Survivor there is definitely a fine line between Leadership which is abusive and which is not. For me it is a real problem in the church.

mike the rev
mike the rev
1 year ago

Reflecting further on this case it is obvious that MP is a classic narcissist in a position of prime spiritual authority, ie about the most dangerous individual you could get. Narcissists require an endless source of supply – in this case young attractive male interns – and the key to their behaviour is initial love-bombing (eg ‘you will do great things for God’) followed by gaslighting or ghosting (the ‘silent treatment’). In the case of these young men – perhaps far further afield than just the UK – the end result will have been devastating. Left feeling they didn’t measure… Read more »

Mal
Mal
1 year ago

In my mind there is no doubt the allegations being made are only the tip on the iceberg. Having attended Soul survivor myself I found myself wondering why Mike was idol worshipped and never felt comfortable when in the vicinity of him and his entourage. I really hope if there has been wrongdoing and individuals have been abused, which it seems clear has been the case, it will not be covered up which sadly the church has a history of doing. May justice prevail.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Mal
1 year ago

I found myself wondering why Mike was idol worshipped and never felt comfortable when in the vicinity of him and his entourage It is now obvious that adults “idol worshipped” by teenagers either are abusers, or have the opportunity to be abusers. In other words, the main thing stopping them from abusing is their own disinclination to abuse. For whatever reason, Sir Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page OBE and other stars of the 1960s and 1970s are given something of a free pass, but it is clear that the secular music scene of that period was an utter cesspit: disc jockeys,… Read more »

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Interested Observer
1 year ago

And can we assume that the lid had been kept on complaints about Mike P. since May 2018 when ( according to the BBC ) the decision was reported that the 2019 camp would be the last and the team would be made redundant?

Rev Pete
Rev Pete
1 year ago

I see the Bishop of Plymouth is now getting involved – his Twitter statement makes a very interesting contrast with that of the American Pastor who seems to be really devastated at having been part of the setup over there. The Bishop seems to be just wanting everyone to back off on social media, and to wait for the outcome of a review Soul Survivor and St Albans Diocese are happy with…never mind the survivors aren’t, then? It’s also very interesting that some of the resources the Bishop recommends to those who have been affected by the situation (for example… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Rev Pete
Phil Groves
Phil Groves
1 year ago

There is a lot of angst in this thread and rightly so. So much abuse we know about and more that we don’t. However, a key question has been raised: Is there a need for an independent enquiry? Clearly, yes. However, I wonder who pays for it? The answer is obvious – the church, but then not so obvious. Why should the people in the pews who were told by Soul Survivor (irony in this name in this context) that we were outdated pay for a an enquiry into a group that enjoyed not being supervised properly? Should the people… Read more »

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
1 year ago

I’ve just seen ++ Canterbury’s statement which translates to
‘Ergo – not remotely independent – keep the lid nailed down ’
It is hard not to see the whole organisation as doomed

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
1 year ago

Yes, it’s utterly extraordinary. It’s like he (and the other Bishops etc) speak a totally different language from the rest of us and what the survivors are asking for is losing meaning in translation. However good the various professionals are, and however much they try to focus on the wellbeing of all concerned, they are absolutely not independent in the dictionary definition or common meaning of the word, in relation to this tragic situation. Similarly, having ++Canterbury’s confidence is a negative rather than a positive on the matter of independence. Please let me express this very simply, if somewhat condescendingly,… Read more »

Realist
Realist
1 year ago

I see another hideous statement has emerged from the entitled stronghold surrounding +Oxford. In this one a ‘spokesman for the Diocese of Oxford’ has made some comments to a journalist minimising +Oxford’s behaviour in Matt Ineson’s case, and making very clear that the Bishop has no intention of stepping back or resigning. Once again, it is breathtaking as an expression of privilege, power and entitlement, and quite dreadful in its ineptitude at reading the depth of feeling among people on the ground in the Church. I think the think that grates most with me is the way the spokesman refers… Read more »

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Realist
1 year ago

Dear Realist, What you say in your last two posts is very powerful, but I’m also afraid it is somewhat at odds with your pen name… Having given a lot of very sad thought to the current issues it seems to me that because the vast majority of our current selection of bishops ( and yes, I know there are a few exceptions) -are male and of the same privately educated Oxbridge/ Durham theological colleges pedigree -they gently slide into becoming an echo chamber and very out of touch with the majority of their potential parishioners. I think more diversity… Read more »

Realist
Realist
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
1 year ago

I don’t disagree with anything you say, Susanna. My pen name was chosen to reflect the fact that I actively resist being drawn in any way, shape or form into the echo chamber of privilege that pollutes the hierarchy of the C of E, including having critical friends who continue to remind me of my own privilege. I try to hold onto the possibility of a better reality – a reality beyond the unbearable sham/facade we see, to theologise it – hard though that is sometimes in today’s Church.

Last edited 1 year ago by Realist
Fred
Fred
1 year ago

It is not being carried out fully. I have contacted them to be left with radio silence after an initial thanks for your email etc. Not got faith in this

Mr Benjamin H Mackay
Mr Benjamin H Mackay
11 months ago

Horrible things happened to me at an Anglican boarding school. It was the time when “boys will be boys”, and this stance has become “We’re better than we were”. I became a Catholic as a result of trying to fix myself. Yes, I have the Latin Mass, but, as a single person recovering from sexual abuse, the most I have ever got from the Church of England was a pat on the head and “There, there, dear”

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