Updated: Rev Jonathan Fletcher’s Abuse Accusations: Did the UK Evangelical Community Within the Church of England Attempt to Cover It Up?


7:30 PM in my side yard

“Lies don’t fit snugly into disguises. Eventually the cloak falls off and you’re left staring at the naked truth which is always an uncomfortable situation.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes


 

On Monday, I posted The Gospel Coalition Presents a Worrisome View on How to Respond to a Church Leader Who Is an Abuser. At the time, I did not realize that there was a reason that Ash had written this post. In the past week, a TWW reader in the UK sent me a series of links about a scandal in the UK regarding a Rev. Jonathan Fletcher. Imagine my surprise when I learned of the connection between the two stories. Ash was writing about this embarrassing scandal.

Fletcher had been a leading figure in the Church of England’s conservative evangelical wing. In 2018, an article describing three of these groups was published.Three of the largest Evangelical groups in the Church of England merge. These three groups are Reform, the Fellowship of the Word and Spirit (FWS)  and The Church Society. The Anglican Mission in England chose not to join the merger..

For those of you who are interested, How evangelicals took over the Church of England provides some insight into the COE evangelical happenings.

Report #1: It was merely spiritual abuse and has nothing to do with physical or sexual abuse.

What is the back story to the Rev. Fletcher scandal? Here is a link to the Telegraph article  “Minister Spiritual Abused the Vulnerable.” Some of the key points from the article:

  • Fletcher, now 76, was removed from his church powers in 2017.but allegedly continued to preach
  • He was a leader of Reform.
  • He was accused of spiritual abuse and not physical or sexual abuse.
  • He claimed to be an acquaintance of John Smyth. (Here is a link to TWW posts on the accusations of abuse by John Smyth who recently passed away.)
  • Apparently more allegations about his conduct were received in 2018.

However, this comment by Fletcher in the Telegraph caught my eye.

He said: “I totally reject and deny any allegations [made against me], although I don’t know what the allegations are about.

“I’m sure that in 30 years of being a reverend that I may have offended someone who has then turned against me. I knew anonymous allegations were made two or three years ago. And I was told police had been contacted. However, I have not been told of any subsequent allegations since.”

Think about it. He rejects all allegations made against him even though he doesn’t know what the allegations are. 😀 .

Report #2: It was physical and sexual abuse.

The Evangelical Ministry Assembly organized by the Proclamation Trust made a statement.

Did they admit to being complicit?

First, we speak with sadness and, I hope, with great humility. There is much here that does not reflect well on our constituency. Serious questions will need to be asked about what went on and how it was able to continue. To the extent we have been complicit in a culture which allowed this to happen, real and deep repentance will be needed. Change will be necessary.

It appears that this group was not proactive.

Church discipline involved hitting each other on their naked backsides!

Shades of Tom Chantry!

Starting in late September 2018, concrete allegations have been made about conduct involving Jonathan and other men. I am not going to say how many disclosures, let alone who made them.
In late 2018 a small number of allegations were made of the practice of physical discipline in the context of discipling relationships. One example of this involved men hitting each other on their naked backsides with a trainer for failing to meet personal targets.

We are told to not speculates on what constitutes the kind of behaviour are included under the headers of physical discipline.

This took place over a period of time; it happened infrequently; the number of hits was small; and we do not believe any physical injuries were sustained, though it has been described as very painful. I am sorry to be specific but I don’t want you to speculate as to what sort of behaviour I include in ‘physical discipline’.

Discipline involved naked massages.

Further disclosures since March 2019 have largely related to a different practice of one to one massage, ranging from partially clothed massage to massage where both men are said to have been fully naked throughout and to have taken turns to massage each other. Again, this conduct seems to have become a regular part of the relationship between Jonathan and certain men over a period of time.

Fletcher still doesn’t take the allegations seriously, calling these activities *light hearted forfeits.*

Church Times on 6/29/19, Fletcher faces allegations of naked beatings.

In his statement, however, Mr Fletcher maintained that the punishments, administered in a long-standing prayer group, were “light-hearted forfeits” if members failed to hit targets of “healthy and holy living”.

“These included going without chocolate, cold baths and school-type gym shoe punishments,” Mr Fletcher writes. “Although at the time we definitely did not think we were doing anything wrong, I’ve seen since that it could have caused much harm both to individuals and to the reputation of conservative evangelicalism for which I am profoundly sorry.”

He acknowledges that he enjoys and benefits from massage, and regularly hires professionals to do it. “However, if I can avoid the cost by finding a male friend to administer, and in return receive, massage, I do.

“These sessions categorically do not have erotic or sexual overtones and I have never coerced or intended to coerce anyone into an arrangement. If any have felt pressurised by me to do this, I apologise.”

Interestingly  Fletcher was disciplined in 2017, but some leading conservative evangelical Anglican clergy only told others to stay away from him in 2019. If they knew he was problematic, why does it appear that they waited two years before going public?

Back to Christopher Ash and Monday’s post: Is this just another good old boys network, UK style?

Here is the post: The Gospel Coalition Presents a Worrisome View on How to Respond to a Church Leader Who Is an Abuser

Well, lo and behold, today I learned that Ash was director of the main course run by The Proclamation Trust, the training branch of the Anglican conservative evangelical movement. Jonathan Fletcher was involved in the Proclamation Trust from the very beginning. Obviously the Proclamation Trust has some ties to the outcome of this situation.

I have a suggestion for Ash. Maybe if the good ol’ boys dealt with credible accusations of bizarre behavior on the part of their BFFs, maybe he wouldn’t have to write articles on how to deal with leaders who are exposed for abuse.

Update 7/4/19

Note to Christopher Ash

I don’t believe that your friend, Jonathan Fletcher, just fell into sin by spending too much time with his favorites as your post implies. This man appears to have a serious problem and probably has an unreported history of such actions. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the good old boys have even heard *the rumors.* For the sake of the church, it is time to wake up and understand that people like Fletcher most likely have a long history of struggles with his form of paraphilia. He didn’t just *fall into into sin.* Wake up and get educated.


Comments

Updated: Rev Jonathan Fletcher’s Abuse Accusations: Did the UK Evangelical Community Within the Church of England Attempt to Cover It Up? — 150 Comments

  1. Removal from office can sometimes be due to a power struggle that the office holder lost. Not saying this is what happened here though.

    BTW the “trainer” used to beat men is a sneaker or gym shoe (trainer is the British term for such).

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  2. The lack of impartiality is far worse than this article explains. Christopher Ash was Jonathan Fletchers curate (trainee minister) and currently sits on the trust that oversees his former church.
    He should be asked whether he observed any abuse or knew of any abuse during his duties or extensive relating to Fletcher. And perhaps the close relationship ought to have been mentioned before he was held up as a wise commentator on reacting to his mentor.

    Mod: This person has other comments as TP. I’ll assume a typo. GBTC

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  3. Christopher Ash was also at one time Jonathan Fletcher’s curate!
    The Old boy network is at work- covering their own as usual. Very much shades of the Cambridge spies scandal where traitors covered for each other and it led to people dying because of their treachery. Is there such a thing as spiritual treachery leading to spiritual death?

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  4. Gahhhhhhhd…. why can’t christian leaders have integrity, operate with honesty and truthfulness, do what is right? when it costs?

    (i dunno, do they even have integrity and honesty when it doesn’t cost?)

    clearly they have too much to lose.

    they could take a cue from my agnostic cousin, who said, “Well, i’m not going to lie.” as in, “duh”.

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  5. Really curious to know what ties The Gospel Coalition has to this.

    Afterall, they’re competing with Starbucks in taking over the world. There’s even a Starbucks attached to one of the main gothic gates of Canterbury Cathedral.

    similarly, there’s mixture and intermarriage between the church in England and The Gospel Coalition.

    If TGC published Christopher Ash’s article, it’s not a stretch to think they have much to lose as well.

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  6. I wonder if an over-literal reading of a text like 1 Cor 9:27 — in some translations this is rendered in ways that could look like self-injury — might have something to do with this.

    Origen famously followed Mt 5:29 literally.

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  7. elastigirl: If TGC published Christopher Ash’s article, it’s not a stretch to think they have much to lose as well.

    I think TGC would publish such an article as a message to the American church to respect their “authority”. After all, it was vague in respect to the controversy, just like the “Broken Wolves” article. Even Joe Carter, on that article, said it was inspired by something specific, but “all of the principles apply generally”. So I would take issue with the TGC article on any grounds because they like to use things like that to put others down who say anything against them or their theology. And the author may not have been aware of that, and his article may have been heavily edited to have the message TGC wanted.

    If Fletcher has done things consensually with other men, then I don’t care about that. But as we’ve seen with Chantry, physical discipline that was not consensual or with children, that’s a problem. I am a little concerned he doesn’t seem to understand what he did wrong, but we’ve seen that ploy used before before it all comes out. And I agree with Erp that it could really be a power struggle coup couched as church discipline.

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  8. ishy: If Fletcher has done things consensually with other men, then I don’t care about that.

    I should correct myself, he did say “light forfeits”, whatever that is, was with a prayer group, so they were inside his church. That would be spiritual abuse. He also admits to seeking massages from other men. I can’t tell if this is pulled from the same group of people from the articles.

    The diocese said they thought he could be harmful to those seeking his care, but not to children, so there is a worry for spiritual abuse. It may be a lot more comes out, and there’s way more concerns, which often happens with situations like this. Now that his name has been publicized for this, more victims may appear.

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  9. Something that has been on my mind for decades is that the churches (at least in US; perhaps UK is similar) are fixated on sexual sins, seemingly to the exclusion of practically every other way that people can go “off the rails”.

    We have (or aspire to have, or pretend to have when we can’t deny or conceal a problem any longer) a sensitive “trigger” for detection of and action on the class of sins that comes under the biblical heading porneia .

    That’s certainly biblical (Eph 5:3): “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality [ porneia ], or of any kind of impurity, …, because these are improper for God’s holy people”

    There’s certainly a “hint” of something prurient in the behaviors that have been attributed to Rev Fletcher’s. It’s right to be concerned about this.

    The thing that has me scratching my head (though perhaps it shouldn’t), is that Eph 5:3 lumps another class of sins in with sexual immorality and impurity:

    “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people”

    It’s as though the bibles that our great leaders read have nothing to say about other-than-sexual sins.

    This is not meant to minimize the concerns expressed in the OP, but to note that many of the churches have normalized all kinds of sin (implicitly, if not explicitly, by tolerating them in the leaders). Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that sexual sins are more tolerated than is publicly admitted.

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  10. ishy: If Fletcher has done things consensually with other men, then I don’t care about that.

    His quotes suggest something different, though, acting out punishments from the men’s school days. Maybe someone familiar with boys’ public schools in the UK (what USans would call private boarding schools) can tell us a little more about the subculture.

    I think these men were drawn in little by little, and lost any notion of consent. Groomed.

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  11. Friend,

    My first thought on reading it was that it sounded a bit like a public/boarding school culture taken over into spiritual life. Very odd boundaries & scenarios were rife in the public school system, & they were an absolute hotbed of all kinds of abusive behaviours. No idea what safeguarding they have in them these days, I can only speak of what I know of my Father’s generation, he was born in 1943 & shipped off to his first school in 1947.

    It could easily be that this guy saw nothing wrong in these behaviours at all, due to a similar background.

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  12. elastigirl: Really curious to know what ties The Gospel Coalition has to this.

    If you google “Jonathan Fletcher The Gospel Coalition”, you get:

    “Jonathan Fletcher books at discount prices – The Gospel Coalition
    https://www.10ofthose.com/tgc/authors/jonathan-fletcher
    Selling quality Christian books that hold to the Bible at discounted prices, seeking to equip the church and reach the world. Good Christian … Jonathan Fletcher.”

    However, that link appears to have been purged.

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  13. Max: It could easily be that this guy saw nothing wrong in these behaviours at all, due to a similar background.

    Thank you. (I hope your father recovered from whatever he experienced.)

    I’ve just read the 10-page statement about the allegations, here: https://walkingwith.uk/EMAStatement.pdf

    It specifically mentions (emphasis mine) “a risk of Jonathan behaving towards vulnerable adults seeking his spiritual guidance in a manner which may be harmful” (p. 5). And these things (p. 6):

    22.2 Their consistent nature, where, for the most part, each person was unaware of what anyone else had disclosed. …

    22.5 The fact the disclosures were generally against the interest of the men involved. They disclosed their own participation in the activities, although they had been misled into thinking the activities were not wrong.

    All of the above suggests to me a man capable of targeting and isolating vulnerable adult men, and drawing them into sexual abuse through weird schoolboy games.

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  14. Max,

    Beakerj: It could easily be that this guy saw nothing wrong in these behaviours at all, due to a similar background.

    Yikes! For some reason my reply was addressed to Max even though I highlighted and quoted Beakerj. (Max, my mention of the father referred to Beakerj’s father, not your own.)

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  15. Friend,

    Yeah, that suggests a bit more, doesn’t it? Sigh.

    My father became a serious alcoholic & died aged 60, though not without being sober for almost 20 yrs, & making his peace with God. I have no idea if he suffered anything other than the emotional fallout of being sent to such an environment from the age of 4 & a half, but that was clearly damage enough. Thanks for remembering him kindly.

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  16. elastigirl: Jerome? Is there a Jerome in the house?

    I posted this in the previous thread:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2019/07/01/the-gospel-coalition-presents-a-worrisome-view-on-how-to-respond-to-a-church-leader-who-is-an-abuser/#comment-406453

    Fletcher’s brother was in charge of the camps?
    The late Fred Catherwood was also an Iwerne/TitusTrust insider (Eden Baptist Church layman, big in govt/industry, an early booster of Mark Dever)

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  17. Folks, I woke up in the middle of the night and realizes I forgot to say something. I have updated the post with a final thought at the end. Here is what I said:

    Update 7/4/19

    Note to Christopher Ash

    I don’t believe that your friend, Jonathan Fletcher, just fell into sin by spending too much time with his favorites as your post implies. This man appears to have a serious problem and probably has an unreported history of such actions. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the good old boys have even heard *the rumors.* For the sake of the church, it is time to wake up and understand that people like Fletcher most likely have a long history of struggles with his form of paraphilia. He didn’t just *fall into into sin.* Wake up and get educated.

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  18. Iwerne camps used for ‘high class grooming’, channeling young men into mentoring relationships, the ‘discipline’ element being introduced later on:

    http://survivingchurch.org/2019/06/27/joining-up-the-dots-the-jonathan-fletcher-story/#comment-12420

    “abusers use Iwerene/Titus Camps as feeding grounds to nurture dependent, idolising, controling relationships with young public school boys. The context is a dream come true for the predator – days on end of sports, small group and one to one talks, intense conversations about personal sins…It’s high class grooming for professional abusers. Then the boys reach the age of 18 and…by this point the abuse can begin in a physical way…won’t ever tell as it’s too embarassing”

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  19. Erp,

    I believe Fletcher may have struggled with his paraphilia for a very long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if people in the system have know about *reports.* Just like the US, the UK is in there throws of waking up to entrenched abusers in various systems- be they church, schools, government. We are finally beginning to understand the concept of sex abuse.

    It is my belief that Fletcher has a paraphilia and it is been covered up as *boys being boys*. for a long time.

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  20. TS: And perhaps the close relationship ought to have been mentioned before he was held up as a wise commentator on reacting to his mentor.

    Let me take it one step further. As an outsider looking in, it is not beyond reason to imagine that Ash knew there were problems and is now trying to downplay what happened. I view his post as a *Don’t blame me, he just slipped. How was I to know?*

    Sadly many of these leaders are naive bumpkins who need to study sexual abuse as much as they have considered theological tomes discussing how many angels dances on the head of a pin.

    By the way, in case anyone is think that I am downplaying the study of theology, I’m not. My husband has a picture of me reading a systematic theology book on the beach. When it gets to be too much, I read dystopian fiction which, in some respects, reminds me a bit of the church through the ages.

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  21. TP:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/03/anne-atkins-inside-thesexual-apartheid-john-smyths-summer-camps/
    The abuser who contacted author is widely believed to have been Fletcher. The church which refused to hear reports is widely believed to have been Emmanuel Church – Fletcher’s church. The men who were curated at that time are now leading the management of the abuse scandal.

    As more info comes in, I would be willing to write another post. Looks like I need to do some reading about Emanuel Church. I hope everyone reading this understand that I am not pointing my fingers at the *bad* UK churches. I do this sort of research on US churches as well. I am also a member of a conservative branch of the Lutheran Church so I care about the church universal.

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  22. Cornel Wilde: Christopher Ash was also at one time Jonathan Fletcher’s curate!

    Cornel Wilde: Is there such a thing as spiritual treachery leading to spiritual death?

    Great piece of information.

    As to your question, I am a conservative Lutheran and we believe that it is possible to fall away form the faith. So, it is my belief that, in fact, Fletcher’s actions could have led some of his *massage buddies* to fall away from the faith- a form of spiritual death.

    I am still a believer in spite of the awful sin I see around me. By awful sin, I mean sexual abuse and severe authoritarianism. In fact, it is the Bible that informs me to be prepared to see these things. The Gospel came to forgive sinners. We may be positionally holy but we are still functional sinners. And some may not even be positionally holy. Those are the ones using the church to ply their despicable trade.

    Thank you for the info.

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  23. Samuel Conner: I wonder if an over-literal reading of a text like 1 Cor 9:27 — in some translations this is rendered in ways that could look like self-injury — might have something to do with this.

    This would have play if he didn’t indulge in naked massages as well. (If anyone had told me 10 years ago that I wold be discussing naked massages on my blog, I would have thought they were perverts. Here I am.)

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  24. ishy: If Fletcher has done things consensually with other men, then I don’t care about that

    My friend in the UK and I discussed this yesterday. Look at the Tullian Tchividjian mess- serial adultery. Almost all believe that this was an example of clergy abuse. The problem is this. Let’s assume Fletcher was a spiritual mentor, in a position to help these men achieve social standing in the church.

    The UK is a bit different than the US in this regard. Social classes matter. My friend helped me to understand this. Fletcher came from a family with social standing. I believe his father served inHarold Wilson’s government. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    So, imagine Fletcher as the key to success for conservative men in the Church of England who want to go somewhere. There is a power differential here that businesses in the US are beginning to understand. Sleep with the boss and maybe you will get somewhere. Don’t sleep with the boss and you might lose you job or be demoted to a basement room

    Fletcher embodied privilege in the conservative sector of the COE and was a Founder of The Proclamation Trust. It appears the such a man could use his position to get what he wanted. I do not believe that this is a simple case of consensual relationships. Too much power present…

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  25. Samuel Conner: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people”

    In the US, mega pastors are living a life of luxury in huge and multiple houses, $3,000 sneakers to look like they belong (Have you seen the Instagram *PastorsNSneakers*-Its worth the laugh)

    Also, greed and sexual sin seem to go hand in hand. Look at the wealth factor in pastors who have fallen-not always but often.

    Sexual sin is easier to point out. How do you determine greed? Which committee would get to decide that. For example, Ronnie Floyd is allegedly being paid $500,000 to head up the SBC executive Committee. I believe that it is an excessive salary. (He is known as Armani Ron) However, I was shocked with number of people who think it is a great idea.

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  26. Friend: Maybe someone familiar with boys’ public schools in the UK (what USans would call private boarding schools) can tell us a little more about the subculture.

    Just like the US, the UK has been rocked by accusations of serious sexual abuse in their public (which are their private schools) The same goes for the US.

    My brother attended one such US school.

    https://www.itv.com/news/2018-02-18/shocking-scale-of-sexual-abuse-at-uk-boarding-schools-revealed-by-itv-documentary/

    https://www.ranker.com/list/boarding-school-scandals/mike-rothschild

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  27. Beakerj: Very odd boundaries & scenarios were rife in the public school system, & they were an absolute hotbed of all kinds of abusive behaviours.

    These abuses are slowly coming out and the plethora of reports is downright shocking.

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  28. Friend: All of the above suggests to me a man capable of targeting and isolating vulnerable adult men, and drawing them into sexual abuse through weird schoolboy games.

    Can you imagine what they went through? If they said something, it was likely they would not be believed or even worse, be made into a pariah. We’ve seen that in the US. for years I wrote stories about Mark Driscoll and Sovereign Grace Ministries. I was attacked, accused of libel, etc. Mt former church tried a few such tactics when a groups of us looked in a pedophile situation (He is in prison.)

    Imagine if you thought you were the only one. Even worse, some feel embarrassed that they allowed this to go on and fear ridicule. Fletcher better start repenting instead of denying all of these allegations (even allegations that he hasn’t read.) He is looking more and more like a pervert to me and I don’t give a rip about his social standing.

    Can you imagine standing before Our Lord and asking Him to recognize one’s social standing? You know, the One who spent his time with lepers and fishermen?

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  29. Jerome: Fletcher’s brother was in charge of the camps?
    The late Fred Catherwood was also an Iwerne/TitusTrust insider (Eden Baptist Church layman, big in govt/industry, an early booster of Mark Dever)

    I have a document that shows Fletcher meeting with John Smyth. Now that is rather worrisome given Smyth’s involvement in similar circumstances. That is something I need to write about.

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  30. elastigirl:
    Really curious to know what ties The Gospel Coalition has to this.

    Afterall, they’re competing with Starbucks in taking over the world.There’s even a Starbucks attached to one of the main gothic gates of Canterbury Cathedral.

    similarly, there’s mixture and intermarriage between the church in England and The Gospel Coalition.

    If TGC published Christopher Ash’s article, it’s not a stretch to think they have much to lose as well.

    Hopefully we’ll find out over the coming weeks what ties TGC has to the individuals involved. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re in much deeper than they’re currently letting on.

    Don’t forget that Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald and C.J. Mahaney all served on TGC’s council at one time or another. TGC’s leaders and staff may be trying to cover their collective backsides in more ways than one.

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  31. dee,

    re: TGC, its exploits, its ‘partnerships’ (it employs a director of partnerships)
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++==

    “Jonathan had been Vicar of Emmanuel Church for 30 years. …Everyone in that world seems to know him or comes in some way into his orbit of his influence. This Wimbledon church seems to be a kind of central hub for the entire conservative evangelical network within Anglicanism.”

    https://goodnessandharmony.wordpress.com/tag/rev-david-fletcher/
    ————-

    i mean, if i were trying to take over the world (for the glory of God, of course), I would start at ‘a kind of central hub’.

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  32. singleman,

    “Don’t forget that Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald and C.J. Mahaney all served on TGC’s council at one time or another. TGC’s leaders and staff may be trying to cover their collective backsides in more ways than one.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    crimany, there’s not much i wouldn’t put past them at this point.

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  33. dee,

    “Can you imagine what they went through? If they said something, it was likely they would not be believed or even worse, be made into a pariah.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    well, if you speak out, you will be “hindering the gospel”. think of all those who will be consigned to hell because you hindered the gospel. because you spoke out.

    when the God card is played (or, emotional manipulation in christianity), it sets in motion all manner of guilt and false responsibility (maybe there’s a term for this).

    a terrifying, devastating thing to load on someone’s shoulders. after they’ve been abused.

    it’s the religious form of a pedophile’s threats of harm to the child’s family if they tell.

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  34. Regarding the Comments section at the end of the Wartburgwatch article it is sad to see the rather ungodly level of careless speculation and associated innuendo being deployed there. We need to remember that ‘Joining the dots’ only works well if you have all the dots and know how they are numbered!
    Having said that I fully agree that all those with any connections to this scandal really ought to recuse themselves at once. It is just simple commonsense to say it must be plain for all to see that there is no possibility of evidence being overlooked or events covered up. Recent experience in wider Church circles teaches us that in such cases truth always comes out in the end, and attempting to ‘manage’ that ends up making things much worse.

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  35. Jonathan Fletcher was Mark Ruston’s curate (author of the Ruston report about Smyth). I believe his brother David was one of the recipients of the report.
    One of the people offering ‘support’ to JF’s victims was once Jonathan Fletcher’s curate (Robin Weekes), another was once David Fletcher’s curate (Vaughan Roberts).

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  36. 9Mark Dever all atwitter about a book he’d got his hands on:

    “Published by Banner, foreword by Jonathan Fletcher”

    https://twitter.com/markdever/status/730009889423110144

    If you recall, between leaving his 9Marks exemplar church in Massachusetts that later went belly up, and being given the reins of DC’s scandal-weakened Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Dever spent the early 1990s in the UK pursuing an academic career at Cambridge. In these circles. Developing a close and lasting bond with the Fred Catherwood family (an Iwerne man), lecturing with his pastor Roy Clements (Eden Baptist Church) at the CICCU (Cambridge Inter Collegiate Christian Union, a foci for the Iwerne set).

    More on all this in a comment I posted in 2017:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2017/06/07/mark-dever-paves-the-way-for-andy-davis-pastoral-career/#comment-327924

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  37. Friend: His quotes suggest something different, though, acting out punishments from the men’s school days. Maybe someone familiar with boys’ public schools in the UK (what USans would call private boarding schools) can tell us a little more about the subculture.

    I think these men were drawn in little by little, and lost any notion of consent. Groomed.

    I went to a boy’s public school in the UK (a private or independent school, not run by the state), but it wasn’t a boarding one, nor was it high up the ranks. However, I know a fair bit about the system.

    Historically, UK boarding schools were notorious for abuse. There would be both physical abuse (punishment beatings and the like) as well as sexual abuse from pedophiles on staff. In additional, older boys would abuse (mostly physically, but I wouldn’t rule out sexually in some case) younger boys. Alex Renton is a journalist who has done a lot to expose this – if you google his name you’ll find his website and writings.

    It’s all about class. Britain is a class-ridden society, and the boarding schools play a key part in this. Rich people send their sons to expensive boarding schools, which specialise in getting them into Oxford or Cambridge, our two most prestigious universities (like Harvard and Yale in the US). From those universities, people go into the prestigious professions – law, medicine, finance, armed forces officers, even the church, and also end up becoming politicians. Your ability to succeed is dependent on getting through school, so the schools have huge power. Parents weren’t going to rock the boat and ask questions about what was happening to their boys at school. Getting expelled would be a devastating blow to your future. So boys would stay silent and keep what happens at school in school.

    Abusers would get away with it, or, if things got too bad, they would quietly move on. We saw this when John Smyth’s violence was discovered – parents didn’t want to make a fuss (the height of bad manners!) and the school (Winchester) didn’t want the adverse publicity, so there was no police involvement and Smyth could leave without anyone knowing.

    There’s so much more I could say about how this culture has influenced the conservative evangelical movement in the Church of England, but I don’t have time. Needless to say, I don’t regard it as at all healthy.

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  38. dee: Fletcher came from a family with social standing. … So, imagine Fletcher as the key to success for conservative men in the Church of England who want to go somewhere.

    Is that a dangled promise based on a lie? I am not convinced that Fletcher could, or would, usher vulnerable younger men into his social class. If they were ordained, maybe he would help them find work in the C of E—but even then, these men are alleged victims. I feel so sorry for them.

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  39. elastigirl: cover their collective backsides

    perception is a funny thing. When I first read this comment, what I saw was “.. cover their collective backslides …”

    OTOH, it’s a “felicitous” misperception, perhaps a phrase that should enter general use.

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  40. Jerome,

    Thank you. That church in Massachusetts was in Topsfield, home of the Topsfield Fair as well as an indoor skating rink which I frequented as a teen. Having grown up in the area, I’m not surprised that his church tanked.It is a different culture in that area-far more liberal and prone to asking all sorts of question.

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  41. Rusty shackleford: Jonathan Fletcher was Mark Ruston’s curate (author of the Ruston report about Smyth). I believe his brother David was one of the recipients of the report.
    One of the people offering ‘support’ to JF’s victims was once Jonathan Fletcher’s curate (Robin Weekes), another was once David Fletcher’s curate (Vaughan Roberts).

    Thank you. Good info,

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  42. ishy: I think TGC would publish such an article as a message to the American church to respect their “authority”.

    All I can think when I see that bit about “authority” is one of the little kids on South Park saying, “there’s nothing worse than Cartman with ‘authoritah’.” (Because Cartman always abuses it.) Apropos of nothing…

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  43. dee:

    I wonder if they have a team that watches scandals and then begin purges. A few months back I mentioned on Twitter that JD Greear still recommended CJ Mahaney books in his website. Suddenly, they vanished!

    Based on my long experience with Scientology, and more recently, watching the antics of a certain religious elephant in the living room that dominates politics in the Intermountain West, I think you are onto something. “They” (whoever “they” are) are watching. They’re probably not as organized as Scientology or that Utah church.

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  44. Jerome: The late Fred Catherwood was also an Iwerne/TitusTrust insider (Eden Baptist Church layman, big in govt/industry, an early booster of Mark Dever)

    As was reflected on the ‘Ethos’ page of the Iwerne holiday camps website:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20131005165856/http://iwerne.org/ethos

    “We enjoy the warm support and recommendation of…Sir Frederick Catherwood, former Vice-President of the European Parliament”

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  45. dee: Thank you. That church in Massachusetts was in Topsfield, home of the Topsfield Fair as well as an indoor skating rink which I frequented as a teen. Having grown up in the area, I’m not surprised that his church tanked.It is a different culture in that area-far more liberal and prone to asking all sorts of question.

    I have a Jewish friend who has asked me about (Southern) Baptists setting up churches in the Cambridge/Somerville area. (His interest is that he lives there and, in fact, he’s been called the unofficial mayor of Somerville.) He can’t understand how these church plants can be successful because the SBC doctrines on certain things are unpalatable to the local population. He also noted that a couple other conservative Protestant churches have gone independent after they clashed with their national leadership over a particular issue.

    I had to explain to him about missions and raising money, that sort of thing. Basically, those church plants will be there as long as they can stand it and can raise money from outside, even if they are never self supporting. Mark Dever wasn’t successful in presenting his Topsfield church as being an outpost for God in the midst of great darkness and collecting money that way, I suppose.

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  46. There are a number of strands to the story.

    The first is the alleged physical abuse of young men within certain groupings. In fee-paying elitist schools and in some grammar schools, such things (and some practices were brutal) were and still are viewed as a rite of passage. That doesn’t make it right or acceptable but if you were of a certain class you expected it and put up with it.

    The second is the network of conservative evangelicals and their centres of influence in ancient universities and nearby churches.

    The third is the influence of those who have passed through these systems in the wider evangelical world.

    The fourth is the proliferation of para- and extra- church organisations which further promote Evangelicalism.

    The fifth is their connection to “the Establishment” and the possibility of there being a cover up. The case of Jonathan Fletcher is an example and the following link “joins the dots”.

    http://anglican.ink/2019/06/29/joining-up-the-dots-the-jonathan-fletcher-story/
    dee,

    Regarding the Gentlemen’s private dining club he belonged to – “The Club of Nobody!s Friends” – the following link to a 1920 publication gives biographical sketches of the type of people who were members at that time. Some would say that nothing much has changed in the intervening 100 years.

    https://archive.org/details/clubofnobodysfri11920nobo/page/n14

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  47. dee: Sexual sin is easier to point out. How do you determine greed?

    I don’t think it really matters what metric is used to determine greed, because it can always be spun to show that it ‘glorifies god’.

    For example, being heavily invested in the arms industry as a ramp-up to war with the ‘enemies of god’.

    You (generic you) can’t do that with two consenting adults doing the horizontal bop.
    It (‘sexual sin’ in its all inclusive sense) therefore becomes thee most egregious thing there is in evangelical ixtianity.

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  48. Jerome,

    I don’t think think you can make much of the association with the late Sir Fred who was a doughty Ulsterman, devout Christian, devoted family man and highly regarded by all (political) parties. Of course I’m biased because his book “The Christian in Industrial Society”(1964) helped to define my outlook.

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  49. Lowlandseer: I don’t think think you can make much of the association with the late Sir Fred who was a doughty Ulsterman, devout Christian, devoted family man and highly regarded by all (political) parties.

    Try Googling this phrase: fred catherwood mark dever. You will come up with adulatory words and recordings by 9Marx, The Gospel Coalition, and Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Fred’s wife Elizabeth was the daughter of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. One link: https://www.9marks.org/article/pastors-and-theologians-forum-selecting-elders/

    What lessons have you learned the hard way in selecting elders? …

    Sir Fred Catherwood

    Paul’s letter to Timothy concentrates on the inherent quality needed in elders who, in the urgency of the new churches, had none of the formal training which today’s church has time to give. But in today’s church, those inherent qualities still matter. Elders still need to be godly, patient, the husband of one wife, good parents, and steeped in the Word of God. No amount of training can offset gaps in these areas.

    Any church is full of people with problems, and the minister cannot take all their calls. The elders are there to surround and support the minister. There is a lot of stress in the ministry and not every minister is strong enough to take it on his own. Ministers need men they can talk to freely who will not abuse that intimacy. We may not have women elders, but we should have elders’ wives. Between husband and wife, elders should be able to take the calls of all who are anxious, uncertain, or just plain ignorant and be able to talk through their problems.

    It may be easier for church members to bring a non-Christian friend to an elder than to the minister, so it helps if elders have some experience of one-to-one evangelism.

    Above all, elders and their wives and families should be role models for the church.

    Sir Fred Catherwood is a British author and politician. His most recent book is The Creation of Wealth: Recovering a Christian Understanding of Money, Work, and Ethics (Crossway, 2002).

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  50. The Proclamation Trust (of which Jonathan Fletcher was a key founder) is the same organisation which had CJ Mahaney scheduled to be a major speaker at their London 2019 conference, but then quietly dropped him, although they would claim that he withdrew for “personal reasons”, even though it happened at exactly the same time that CJ Mahaney was removed from speaking at the T4G 2019 conference. There seems to be a boys club connection between “reformed celebrities” not just in the US but also with The UK. That is until they become a liability and embarrassment. Spiritual and sexual abuse within their church environments appears to be a recurring theme.

    As someone who lives in the UK, I would suggest that one of the cultural nuances that allowed Jonathan Fletcher to develop his abusive behaviour (and possibly how he still does not see that he has do anything wrong) is that younger men of lower class and far less influence would have been very reticent to oppose or question what was said and done by someone of Jonathan Fletcher’s social standing and influence, and this would have been considered normal and acceptable. This would have been the culture instilled in UK in boys at private boarding schools – you defer to anyone of higher social class, and don’t question their opinions, particularly not in public.

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  51. Friend,

    I don’t need to google him. I know the family connections quite well. What he said sounds to me like good advice. Whilst it is always advisable to beware the praise of men, it is hardly a sin to be given a pat on the back by Mark Dever.

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  52. “Lies don’t fit snugly into disguises. Eventually the cloak falls off and you’re left staring at the naked truth which is always an uncomfortable situation.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

    This is just an aside, but, Dee, you always come up with such excellent, relevant quotes.

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  53. Meanwhile, over in the IFB, a pastor’s wife named Shannon Griffin has been arrested for supplying alcohol and nude video of herself to a 15-year-old boy, and sexually assaulting him. She’s a kindergarten teacher in the church school. When a student handed his dad his phone to show explicit images of the teacher, this happened:

    “I called the pastor, and I said to him, ‘You better get in front of this.’ I said, ‘All these kids are passing videos around of your wife.’ And he said, ‘It’s not my wife. It’s not her. We’re just going to pray about it. Let the lord take care of us.’” https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2019/07/02/teacher-sexual-assault-shannon-griffin-burbank/

    Despite Pastor Thomas Griffin’s denials, his wife has now been charged with crimes against two adolescent male victims between 2013 and 2019. The Chicago Tribune also has coverage.

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  54. Gary Boswell: There seems to be a boys club connection between “reformed celebrities” not just in the US but also with The UK. That is until they become a liability and embarrassment. Spiritual and sexual abuse within their church environments appears to be a recurring theme.

    And they only become a liability or embarrassment when the private information becomes too public. It’s not the behavior, it’s the public knowledge of it.

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  55. The people managing the Fletcher scandal all are indebted to him for their ministries in various ways.
    They are clearly keen to:
    A. Minimise appearance of his wrongdoing (hence say nothing for long time, then admit spiritual abuse, then some form of physical chastisement – but no numbers of victims. Much else hidden.
    B. Ignore link to the Iwerne / Titus Trust camps where the grooming often began to get the men ready for future abuse.
    C. Ignore link to Smythe – the notorious abuser who was close friends with Fletcher and led the camps with him.
    D. Overlook claim from Smythe victim that there were in fact 6 camp abusers. Meaning there could be others in the club still active.

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  56. Friend,

    No it doesn’t. Priesthood of all believers, the church as a body, mutual encouragement, ministry of women. Having “pastor” or “Reverend” in front of your name doesn’t necessarily make you the best person to give advice.

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  57. Lowlandseer: No it doesn’t. Priesthood of all believers, the church as a body, mutual encouragement, ministry of women. Having “pastor” or “Reverend” in front of your name doesn’t necessarily make you the best person to give advice.

    You are missing my point. If I just got a terrifying diagnosis and call the church to ask for the pastor to phone me, I expect the pastor to phone me. If I want to talk to the elder’s wife, I will do that on my own. There should be no bait and switch.

    The passage is all about protecting the poor pitiful pastor-man. He has to be shielded from church members who are “anxious, uncertain, or just plain ignorant.” Utterly condescending. It is also an abuse of elders’ wives to fob off pastoral responsibility on them.

    Whole families do not set out to join the ministry. Even I Tim. 3 does not give everybody in the family a job.

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  58. DB: Regarding the Comments section at the end of the Wartburgwatch article it is sad to see the rather ungodly level of careless speculation and associated innuendo being deployed there. We need to remember that ‘Joining the dots’ only works well if you have all the dots and know how they are numbered!

    Oh DB…I’ll tell you what’s sad and ungodly…the refusal for so many in the church to cover up what appears to be rather clear to those of us looking at this.
    I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and your comment appears to be a simple deflection by someone who is a bit upset that someone got caught.

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  59. Gary Boswell: younger men of lower class and far less influence would have been very reticent to oppose or question what was said and done by someone of Jonathan Fletcher’s social standing and influence, and this would have been considered normal and acceptable. This would have been the culture instilled in UK in boys at private boarding schools – you defer to anyone of higher social class, and don’t question their opinions, particularly not in public.

    This is exactly what is bullying and abuse by those in power.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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  60. Old Boy,

    “Parents weren’t going to rock the boat and ask questions about what was happening to their boys at school. Getting expelled would be a devastating blow to your future. So boys would stay silent and keep what happens at school in school.

    Abusers would get away with it, or, if things got too bad, they would quietly move on. We saw this when John Smyth’s violence was discovered – parents didn’t want to make a fuss (the height of bad manners!) and the school (Winchester) didn’t want the adverse publicity, so there was no police involvement and Smyth could leave without anyone knowing.

    There’s so much more I could say about how this culture has influenced the conservative evangelical movement in the Church of England, but I don’t have time. Needless to say, I don’t regard it as at all healthy.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    this is church covenant a la mode with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry, and home-made caramel sauce & sprinkles, too.

    based on what i’ve observed, it sounds like a professional christian’s dream.

    maybe this is a silly question… but could this be even an eency factor as to why TGC has such an interest in ‘partnerships’ in England?

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  61. Friend,

    You have a rather strange view of what you should expect from “the clergy”. If I got a “terrifying diagnosis” I wouldn’t dream of calling my local vicar although I would perhaps mention it in passing when I saw him if I thought it necessary or beneficial. And the fact is that whole families do, in a sense, set out to join the ministry. Nor is your claim that it is all about protecting the “poor, pitiful, pastor man” anywhere close to being accurate, although it is this poor, pitiful pastor man that you want to be at your beck and call any time you can’t deal with something. All rather odd.

    But all this is drifting away from the point of the post, which is about abuse on the church and a possible cover up.

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  62. Old Boy: There’s so much more I could say about how this culture has influenced the conservative evangelical movement in the Church of England, but I don’t have time. Needless to say, I don’t regard it as at all healthy.

    This really highlights how in closed communities the abnormal can be normalized.
    There are a lot of similarities with fraternity & sports team hazing.
    Abuse like this even occurred in the military. I was a reservist for four years and heard stories.
    My parents came from the British working class. Both joined the trades in their teens. Thanks for the insight.

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  63. Lowlandseer: You have a rather strange view of what you should expect from “the clergy”. If I got a “terrifying diagnosis” I wouldn’t dream of calling my local vicar … it is this poor, pitiful pastor man that you want to be at your beck and call any time you can’t deal with something. All rather odd.

    Lowlandseer, your disdain for church members is noted.

    Our pastors have helped me through two grave illnesses that threatened to leave my husband widowed and our young offspring without a mother. These good people offered to visit me in the hospital and bring Communion to our home. They helped to calm me in moments of terror, and rejoiced with me as I recovered. Part of their skill comes from seminary training. Their devotion and strength come from Jesus who healed and Jesus who wept.

    Maybe you are more stoical than I. Maybe your church does not offer this compassionate skill. But you are absolutely wrong to imply that calling pastors about life-and-death matters is “odd.” For what it is worth, I rang during office hours.

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  64. Jack: There are a lot of similarities with fraternity & sports team hazing.
    Abuse like this even occurred in the military.

    It is my strong suspicion that these are not mere coincidence, but the result of institutions using ages old practices of trauma based mind control to break down resistance and critical thinking to create a traumatized, submissive class of followers. This sort of rampant abuse on a wide scale is unlikely to be due to a few pervs getting their jollies. It is deliberate, and creates fear of being found out, blackmailable leaders and power for those who run such schemes. Hence the ever increasing spider web of connections.

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  65. “Mr Fletcher maintained that the punishments, administered in a long-standing prayer group, were “light-hearted forfeits” if members failed to hit targets of “healthy and holy living”.”

    This sounds like a cult more than a ‘prayer group’.

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  66. Erp: BTW the “trainer” used to beat men is a sneaker or gym shoe (trainer is the British term for such).

    Thank you! I was puzzling over that, and I think it was from the context, because I’ve heard that before. If they said he ‘put trainers on for a jog’ I would have realized.

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  67. Friend,

    I have no such disdain and just because I don’t agree with your idea of membership doesn’t mean you can infer or imply motives that are alien to me. Any pastor worthy of his calling would have been ahead of the matter. The internet being what is, no one knows who they are talking with or their particular circumstances before they reply so to that extent I have “darkened the Lord’s counsel with words without knowledge.” And for that I unreservedly apologise and pray that you will find comfort and continuing strength in God.

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  68. Lowlandseer:
    Friend,
    You have a rather strange view of what you should expect from “the clergy”. If I got a “terrifying diagnosis” I wouldn’t dream of calling my local vicar although I would perhaps mention it in passing when I saw him if I thought it necessary or beneficial.

    Maybe this is a difference in how one views the role of a pastor/vicar (if I’m correct in using these terms interchangeably). If I got a terrifying diagnosis, I wouldn’t dream of telling upper management at my place of employment. But I would tell people I love, and those who love me. “A new command I give you: Love one another… By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) Just as Mary and Martha sent word to Christ when Lazarus was ill. “So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’” (John 11:3)

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  69. DB: Regarding the Comments section at the end of the Wartburgwatch article it is sad to see the rather ungodly level of careless speculation and associated innuendo being deployed there.

    The scolds have arrived I suppose…

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  70. Lowlandseer:
    Friend,
    And the fact is that whole families do, in a sense, set out to join the ministry.

    Some, yes; others, most definitely not. My now husband was fresh out of seminary and looking for a pastorate when we met. I was not one of those little girls who dreams of one day being a pastor’s wife. I told people, “I really like him, but I’m not so sure about this whole pastor thing.” He ended up leaving the ministry right before we got married, for reasons unrelated to our relationship.

    My current church, the senior pastor’s wife is Director of Women’s Ministry, loves her job, and is great at it. The associate pastor’s wife has no ministry role, loves it, and is great at being a “normal” member of the congregation. I’m glad to be part of a church that lets women function with the gifts God gave them, instead of as reflections of the gifts God gave their husbands.

    And no, children do not set out to join the ministry their parents chose. My mom’s a nurse. I don’t pretend to know how to heal a broken arm.

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  71. Lowlandseer: What he said sounds to me like good advice.

    I think the whole pastors wives/elders wives as defector pastor/elder thing needs a lot of examination in general, but then I think it’s stupid to exclude women in general. But who decided that simply because a person was married to someone in ministry they were defacto qualified to be ministers themselves, while excluding others who might be great at it.

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  72. Lowlandseer: Having “pastor” or “Reverend” in front of your name doesn’t necessarily make you the best person to give advice.

    But marrying one does, somehow??

    That’s not biblical. Or sensible.

    We are also handing out or excluding pastoral care by gender, in which case what is the point or it at all? LEt’s just get rid of them if that’s the case.

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  73. Lowlandseer: You have a rather strange view of what you should expect from “the clergy”. If I got a “terrifying diagnosis” I wouldn’t dream of calling my local vicar

    Are you serious???

    Pastors at my church visit people in the hospital, and we discuss prayer requests, surgeries, members whose family members have died in both deacon/elder meetings and during prayer in the service. And I’m sure many others have private conversations without wishing them public. This is not extraordinary, it is ROUTINE and happens every week. Are you saying your church doesn’t care if it’s members have a terminal illness, or that you don’t care to tell anyone? Because those are different things.

    In your efforts to flub off pastoral care, you are seriously discounting many many churches regular behavior. If wish to share with your pastor and they can’t be bothered, there is something seriously wrong.

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  74. Lea: The scolds have arrived I suppose…

    I don’t know about DB but for some folks living in these closed communities to question the representatives of God is to question God himself.

    Even many mainstream church scandals involve this culture of compliance.

    To an extent, it depends on how you approach Christianity.

    I notice a fair chunk of authoritarian groups tend to have a “Old Testament” focus. If they discuss the new testament there is a definite bias towards Paul (or those writings attributed to him)

    For these groups God’s Kingdom is literally a top down affair God–> church —> pastor –> congregants (or in some cases pastor–>elders–>men–>women and kids with farm animals sometimes taking precedent over the women and kids).

    It’s God’s Kingdom…not God’s constitutional democracy.

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  75. Lowlandseer: You have a rather strange view of what you should expect from “the clergy”. If I got a “terrifying diagnosis” I wouldn’t dream of calling my local vicar although I would perhaps mention it in passing when I saw him if I thought it necessary or beneficial.

    This is one of the saddest comments I believe I have ever received. What kind of a church community here you in in which you do not reach out to your pastor in your hot of pain and suffering. Do you view your pastor asa mere theologian, spouting out clever theological points in an intellectually pleasing fashion?

    When my 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. I was also pregnant with my third child and we were in a new city where we knew few people. The people in my mega church leapt into action. Not only did I receive a visit in the hospital from my pastor and a church leaders but lots of people. What is fascinating about this is that the pastor is one of those mega pastors who is into Bible Lite. In the midst of building his fortune, even he was saddened when a little girl in his large congregation was suffering.

    The same happened in my next church which was a great church. When my daughter was undergoing testing, some of the leaders showed up to sit with us and pray for us.

    I didn’t particularly like living in Dallas but there was one thing that was wonderful. The caring of the Christian community, all the way to the pastors, was outstanding and comforting.

    This is simple compassion. The best way to show care for your people is to be there in their serious trials. My current church pastors, conservative Lutherans and not into Bible Lite, also make it a point to visit people in the hospital and nursing homes.

    Are you in one of those churches in which serious theology is all that matters and the pain of the people is insignificant because you are the *elect* so deal with it? If so, I feel so sorry for you. It sounds like a cold, barren relationship.

    At least I understand you better now and I am so, so sorry for you.

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  76. Jack: I don’t know about DB but for some folks living in these closed communities to question the representatives of God is to question God himself.

    I knew these folks would come. They were there when I covered the Iain Campbell scandal. I irritated them then because I had received *insider* information which spelled out the depth of Campbell’s perversion.

    Now, onto Fletcher. Too bad he didn’t die like Smyth which caused the entire debacle to go away since one cannot prosecute a dead man. However, it is still possible for the church authorities to do that. Now the authorities have to deal with another member of the inner circle who apparently has engaged in bizarre activities with those under him the church hierarchy. Or, could it be that he also did so with members of the inner circle? Who knows? I bet someone does.

    These folks are used to throwing out words like *ungodly* speculation and watching people cower before their pronouncements. That is how they have kept this stuff quiet for so long.

    My prediction: More stuff coming…

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  77. dee: They were there when I covered the Iain Campbell scandal

    It’s sort of fascinating when you do UK stuff because different sorts of people tend to show and I find that interesting, but also because most of his have no knowledge or investment in these ‘ministers’ and so we’re actually very detached and unemotional about that aspect (not the abuse)? I feel like there is a lot more ‘how does this particular church/culture work’ going on. IDK.

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  78. Wild Honey: I would tell people I love, and those who love me.

    Agreed. I would say, though, that pastoral care should be more than a benefit for members. When an unchurched young person died in an accident, our pastors helped the family and held the funeral. This is in keeping with Jesus’ ministry and the Good Samaritan story.

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  79. dee,

    Dee.

    (First, let me say that I found a very lovely church with nice leaders and have settled down to hopefully a pleasant and quiet existence. It does not represent the bulk of my Christian experiance. At all. And now with that out of the way..)

    Where have you been living?
    Reveal personal information to your Church leadership?
    Consult your Church when you have a disease?
    Dead kid?
    When your life isn’t worth living?
    Are you kidding?

    Job’s friends existed for a reason, and it had nothing to do with comfort.

    Shimei threw dirt at David because it was his job. What’s the point of Shimei’s life if he doesn’t get off his butt in a disaster and throw something and curse.

    The troubles of this life would not be complete if there where not watchers in the audiance.

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  80. Lowlandseer: The internet being what is, no one knows who they are talking with or their particular circumstances before they reply

    Thank you for your kind words, and your apology. I will offer an apology of my own, because I do not know your circumstances. As Dee points out, you might belong to a church that does not help people through hardship. You have shown compassion here, and for that I am grateful.

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  81. dee,

    Please don’t feel sorry for me. We (as in my family) have had many trials and all through them my pastor and church, as well as those of other denominations, have been right by our side.(Can you imagine a staunch evangelical Presbyterian with Calvinistic views being grateful for the candles lit by Roman Catholics who didn’t know us but who were praying for us and with us?).

    The occasion was the premature birth of our son at 24 weeks. At the time he was the smallest surviving baby in the country. He was dumped at the bottom of my wife’s bed in intensive care where the staff were trying to save her life. “Aye, he was just too small, you can always try again” was the medical assessment. Fortunately the ward sister was passing and noticed something. “There’s life here” she shouted and whisked him off to the Special Care Unit. He was still hanging in there a fortnight later until a locum doctor misread the notes and instead of removing the oxygen for an hour, he removed it for the best part of a day. We couldn’t believe it. Our son was turning grey the almost black while a nurse ran up and down whispering”Help”. I looked at my wife and we both said “This shouldn’t be happening because God told us he would be okay.” (Don’t ask me how we knew this). He pulled through that too and eventually was discharged from hospital on the day he had been due to be born. Some thirty years later he is a strapping, healthy young man with the strength of an ox, supremely talented and with a remarkable gift of tenderness and affection for everyone he meets. Follow that with more serious illness in the family and being given the “we’re doing our best but prepare for the worst” speech three times and then caring for parents with dementia first my mother who died a few years ago and now my father who is nearly 97 and determined to reach not 100 but 106! In all things God is good and we are grateful beyond measure for the spiritual, prayerful and practical help fellow believers have given us throughout our lives.

    In a way your comment validates my point that in this place on the internet no one knows anything about the other commenters and assumptions are made which can be wide of the mark.

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  82. Lowlandseer: in this place on the internet no one knows anything about the other commenters and assumptions are made which can be wide of the mark.

    Then maybe we should all make charitable assumptions, knowing specifically that vulnerable people read TWW, often without commenting. Perhaps we should inform them that they deserve to receive pastoral care from pastors. We might encourage people to ask, when visiting a new church, “What sort of pastoral care do you offer?”

    Church members are entitled to make the initial judgment about whether to call the church about a problem. If pastors have any skill at all, they will be able to differentiate between minor and major concerns, and offer guidance.

    Luke 18 gives some hints about what people ask and receive. It’s an interesting read today.

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  83. dee:
    Wild Honey,
    Those who I love would be my family, my pastors and my church. I might tell my CEO if she were someone trustworthy and loving.

    Agreed. Sorry, should have been more clear. I have had some very loving managers and supervisors, and meant that as a very broad net. On the flipside, I have belonged to mega churches where I do not know all of the pastors, and I would only tell the ones that I knew well. To tell nobody in church leadership? To me, that speaks to a sad disconnect between leaders and congregants, though it’s hard to tell from limited context who has responsibility for the disconnect.

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  84. Wild Honey: I have had some very loving managers and supervisors, and meant that as a very broad net.

    I have probably been closer to a number of supervisors than pastors. I had a supervisor I worked with 10 years and saw every day and I would have definitely told him if there were anything serious going on. But I would probably also drop a line to someone on staff a church, or have it passed on. They wouldn’t be the first people I told but they would be on the list.

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  85. Headless Unicorn Guy: I understand “Erotic Flagellation” was the paraphilia of choice among Respectable Upper & Middle-Class Victorian Englishmen — “KINK OF ENGLAND!”

    There’s at least anecdotal evidence of a lot of weird stuff among that group. The weight of pressure to maintain an utterly unreal front can’t have helped.

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  86. Nathan Priddis: The troubles of this life would not be complete if there where not watchers in the audiance.

    Everyone loves a train wreck.

    The problem is the watchers at best do nothing, a worst take a “better them me” approach.

    We heard that over at the village church. Until the victims became “them”

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  87. Lea,

    No I disagree. My experience is that my pastor, church, friends are usually ahead of the game and know what’s going on, which was one of the points I made earlier. As usual here, assumptions are made which have no foundation in fact but reflect the bias of the one who comments. If you’ve read my subsequent comments you would see this but you seem to want to prove a point. But, hey-ho, that’s life in the blogosphere.

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  88. Lowlandseer: As usual here, assumptions are made which have no foundation in fact but reflect the bias of the one who comments. If you’ve read my subsequent comments you would see this but you seem to want to prove a point.

    This is 100% unfair. I take your words as you write them. I did see your later comments, however they were not reflected in your comment to me and they did not negate what you said originally either. I want to prove no more points than you wanted to prove by stating your opinions in the first place.

    Your original note that I replied to said that ‘You have a rather strange view of what you should expect from “the clergy”. If I got a “terrifying diagnosis” I wouldn’t dream of calling my local vicar’. Now they’re ahead of the game? Honestly.

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  89. DB: We need to remember that ‘Joining the dots’ only works well if you have all the dots and know how they are numbered!

    Maybe other people don’t have so much trouble seeing the obvious as you do.

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  90. dee: Then again, perhaps the communicator is not writing in a straightforward manner that is understandable.

    What I wrote was quite clear and demonstrated the dangers of making assumptions that prove to be wide of the mark, as your own assumption demonstrated.

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  91. Old Boy,

    Been to a boarding school for 4 years in the late 80s mid-west England close to Blackpool. I totally agree with what you wrote. It is an environment that lend itself to abuse.

    I would add to it that students are promoted to positions that come with privileges and access to high-up.

    I remembered school prefects were allow to dine at the “high table” with teachers and head masters (“High table” is a platform above the floor at the front of the dinning hall. It has a long dinning table for teachers and headmaster. The rest of us can see whose dined at the “high table”). Higher grade level students had early access to dining hall, and other subtle social rules. You are quick to learn your place.

    Your social status governs how you should behave with those above you and below you. Think of the different social classes in Downtown Abby but in a boarding setting with students. Privileged / older students are to enforce the social order. Unspoken rule is to keep the lower status group in check so that the upper class would not be disturbed. Treatment of young students who will not submit can be heavy handed. Also, your pedigree matters i.e. your family line factors are to your social class. Unlike America, if you were born as a commoner, you are a commoner (not a drop of royal blood in you) and not be accepted as one of them no matter how much you have achieved.

    After typing this out loud, the boarding school system is silimar to high authoritarian churches here with layers of authority through senior pastor, pastors, elders, and group leaders for enforcing “godly behavior” and keeping problems away from higher-up. Comes with previliges and access as you get promoted to the next class. OMG.

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  92. DB: Comments section at the end of the Wartburgwatch article … ungodly level of careless speculation and associated innuendo … We need to remember that ‘Joining the dots’ only works well if you have all the dots and know how they are numbered!

    Welcome to TWW, DB. Hang around for a while – the dots get easier to discern!

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  93. dee: I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and your comment appears to be a simple deflection by someone who is a bit upset that someone got caught.

    “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!” (Hosea 4:17)

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  94. DB: ‘Joining the dots’

    Watchblogs like TWW take great care in ‘collecting’ the dots before ‘connecting’ them. Again, stick around awhile – you too may develop the ability to connect them before they are all collected! TWW and commenters have endeavored to connect the dots on some church leaders before something else happens! And when we do – when abusers are revealed – it is not that rewarding of an experience, to expose the depths of depravity in church pulpits.

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  95. Lowlandseer: What I wrote was quite clear and demonstrated the dangers of making assumptions that prove to be wide of the mark, as your own assumption demonstrated.

    I was not really clear on what your message was, either. You seemed to be saying that one should not expect any personal attention from one’s pastor, but then you seemed to be saying you had had a great deal of personal attention from yours at important times of need in your life, so I think I must not have understood you correctly.

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  96. dee: I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and your comment appears to be a simple deflection by someone who is a bit upset that someone got caught.

    Happens every time some ManaGAWD comes under scrutiny on this or other watchblogs. Suddenly all these Concerned Christians(TM) who never commented before come out of nowhere spouting SCRIPTURE(TM) and defending the ManaGAWD to the death. Like they’ve taken his Mark in bad Christian Apocalyptic.

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  97. DB: Recent experience in wider Church circles teaches us that in such cases truth always comes out in the end, and attempting to ‘manage’ that ends up making things much worse.

    Has it occurred to you to wonder why truth has invariably come out in the end recently?

    In large part it is because of blogs like this one. Bloggists like Dee (and, previously, Deb) are willing to be called gossips, slanderers, daughters of stan and all the other names they get called, to uncover the truth. And risk ungodly levels of careless speculation and associated innuendo along with it.

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  98. Nuttshell: Elder’s wives in “position of leadership” in the church (only qualification: being married to an elder) and actual women elders: semantics.

    Sort of, except that in one case they marry into the position and in the other they would be chosen for their own qualifications.

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  99. In our former church an elderly friend reluctantly agreed to become a deacon. His wife, however revolted at the suggestion that she was to act as a deacon, and do whatever was asked of her to minister to the women, but was not to be allowed in on all of the information or give and take that was walled off to only ‘the boys’. Thankfully, although the pastor would never have approved, her husband agreed, and was willing to give her all of the details to serve with knowledge.

    The real issue is in taking advantage of the gifts of women while publicly denigrating them and condemning them to second place status. No woman should allow herself to be so used. In more than one case, it was fairly obvious that had it not been for the elder’s wife, the ship would have been in poor shape.

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