“It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that ‘from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.’ To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.” CS Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Evangelicals appear to be on the ascendency in the Church of England/
There is much going on in the Church of England in regards to abuse. It might surprise some Americans to learn that evangelicals now have some sway within those churches. In the 1960s there was significant disagreement between two well-known church leaders: Martin Lloyd-Jones and John Stott. Lloyd-Jones argued that evangelicals should leave the COE to avoid aligning with the liberal leadership. Stott believed that evangelicals should stay and change the COE from within. It looks like Stott’s view was correct. Premier Christianity posted How evangelicals took over the Church of England. They posted the following chart of the three major groups within the COE.
It’s perhaps understandable why evangelicals have felt forced to leave the Church in years gone by. Whether disgruntled at perceived liberalism or prompted by the charismatic renewal to start something new, evangelicals have often followed Martin LloydJones in feeling more at home outside of the established Church. Yet, whatever differences remain over sexuality, evangelicals are in the ascendancy in the CofE. It could be argued that there’s never been a better time to be an Anglican evangelical. If that’s true, then Stott’s side of the debate can claim victory. Not only is evangelical influence substantial, but it is significant enough to attract criticism both from secularists and some Christians inside the CofE
Unfortunately, the evangelicals in the UK have to deal with abuse in the churches and a plea for information.
However, just like in the USA, the UK evangelicals have their own abuse scandals which I have written about from time to time. I have written about Fletcher before as well as John Smyth. There appears to me to be some sort of tie-in to nudity and corporal punishment, perhaps coming out of the public schools (which are private schools in the US. I know that is quite confusing for Americans.)
Before I begin looking at the developments in the Jonathan Fletcher situation, I’m going to be somewhat cryptic here. It’s my hope that I will hear from some people who are aware of what I am hinting at. I have heard that there may be a group of evangelical pastors or church leaders who are involved in physical shenanigans that are brushed off as *getting steam out.” This is not an accusation in any way not is it meant to point out any particular person. However, I have received sufficient input that leads me to ask more questions. Confidentiality is guaranteed: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important to understand that it is not the fault of the church if an abuser is present, either in positions of leadership or general membership. Such individuals have deeply rooted psychiatric issues and need to be confronted. It is the fault of the church leadership or membership if they know such a person is present and do nothing about it. In July 2019, I wrote a post about Jonathan Fletcher. Jonathan Fletcher was the Minister of Emmanuel Ridgway Proprietary Chapel, in Wimbledon, from 1982 to 2012. His license to preach was revoked in 2017.
Here is an excerpt from my post Updated: Rev Jonathan Fletcher’s Abuse Accusations: Did the UK Evangelical Community Within the Church of England Attempt to Cover It Up?
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.
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 behavior 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?
Is there a cover-up of abuse by evangelicals in leadership within the COE? What about the membership?
Sadly, it reminds me of the church in the US. Here is what I want to address. From the above post.
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?
In 10/20, Anne Atkins wrote When people won’t believe you. Here is what she had to say about the aftereffects to his congregation.
Emmanuel Church, Jonathan’s last living, is still in shock. Members of the congregation talk of feeling tainted. Some are having to reprocess their very conversions under his ministry.
Here is what her acquaintances had to say about Feltcher.
I SEE direct parallels between our experience and those harmed by Jonathan Fletcher. A longstanding protégé of Jonathan’s speaks of his amazement at how little contact has been made by Christian friends.
“Everyone knew I was close to him,” he says. And yet almost no one has picked up the telephone to ask if he is all right. One wrote a kind letter. Another rang. The rest? Silence, for over a year. Have they really not joined the dots?
One victim was on the phone about something else to an old friend. The friend said: “I’ve been thinking of you, with all this about Jonathan coming out.” Thinking of him? But not bothering to get in touch.
…Occasionally, a response can be worse even than ignorance or disbelief. I was at a party (remember those?) in late July 2019, and someone I didn’t know well (but liked greatly) opened the batting abruptly: “What do you make of all this Jonathan Fletcher stuff?”
“What do you?” I asked carefully.
“I’ve been told it’s a fuss about nothing. A misunderstanding of public-school culture and horseplay.”
Aghast, I said: “I have friends who have made allegations.” It didn’t even seem to register
Fletcher blows off his actions. You have got to read what he said.
In the article by Atkins, she recounts a statement by Fletcher that seems absurd to those of us who have been through the #churchtoo movement. Let me remind you, Fletcher is in his late 70s and does not seem to have developed any self-awareness.
As part of a long-standing prayer group, I have in the past been involved in a system of mutual encouragement whereby we set ourselves targets in healthy and holy living and then imposed what I thought of as light-hearted forfeits if we failed.
“These included going without chocolate, cold baths and school-type gym shoe punishments. 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. Needless to say, this activity has now stopped.”
His victims respond.
Hattie Williams, writing for Church Times wrote Jonathan Fletcher ‘has minimised allegations’ made against him
In an open response published on the website Anglican Ink, on Monday, the survivors’ advocate Andrew Graystone, and four clerics — the Revd Melvin Tinker, Bishop Gavin Ashenden, Dr Peter Sanlon, and the Revd Carl Chambers — analyse Mr Fletcher’s response, through which, they say, he “continues his self-deception and, drawing on the power of his previous reputation, pressurises others to share it.
He implies that he doesn’t know who he has harmed, or how he might have ‘unwittingly’ harmed them. He asks his victims to identify themselves to him and says that he wishes to ‘beg their forgiveness’ (although he does know who some of them are).”
Mr Fletcher puts on survivors, they write, “a duty to forgive the harm that he himself refuses to acknowledge he has done. In all of this, Fletcher prioritises his own reputation, and the reputation of what he calls ‘the evangelical hierarchy’. In his choice of language and his misuse of scripture, Fletcher doesn’t seem to have recognized that it is ‘time to come clean’.”
Heed this one. Evangelical public school cliques need to come clean.
Again from the Church Times/Wiliams:
The Bishop of Willesdon, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, posted a link to the letter on Twitter, and commented: “There is agreement right across the board that this small public-school clique of evangelicals need to come clean on the cover-up around [John] Smyth and Fletcher. Their continued silence is a disgrace.”
David Ould posted IT’S NOT OVER – EVANGELICALS, ABUSE AND A CALL FOR A GOSPEL-SHAPED REPENTANCE David is a Senior Associate Minister at St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta in Sydney, Australia.
evangelicals in the Anglican Church will soon be facing up to their own scandal around abuse and it’s cover-up. The long-awaited report by thirtyone:eight into the events surroundingJonathan Fletcher’s abuse at Emmanuel Wimbledon has been postponed until the first quarter of 2021.
Ould emphasizes that the church leaders knew of Fletcher’s disgraceful behavior and ignored it.
I have been approached by more than one person who had knowledge of Fletcher’s behaviour long before the allegations were apparently disclosed. One person has related to me being invited to take part in the “forfeits” and (in their own words) thinking “Hell, no!”. They then went to the leadership of Emmanuel Wimbledon about the matter and were rebuffed.
This was all 20 years ago. 20 years ago Fletcher was urging young men to be virtuous and then going back to his rectory where other men of a similar age to me and my peers were treated appallingly. And church leadership at the time were told. I cannot stress this last point enough. Fletcher’s behaviour was being reported and there was nothing being done to stop it.
Ould believes that the people who know about this are more concerned about preserving *reputation.*
In the past 18 months I have had a number of conversations with others about the whole Fletcher saga. I’m sorry to report that there have been those, some of them well-recognised names in our fraternity, who have urged me to stay quiet and not publish the details and others who have argued that all the details may yet not come out and therefore there is less imperative to disclose. What has become clear to me is that at least one contributing motivation in all this is a concern for preserving reputation.
He believes there will be more revelations. I’m with him.
It is also true that the shame and embarrassment that these events and the poor way that they are handled is not over either. There will be more reports and more disclosures and the truth will come out.
There will be dark days for the COE as the particulars of Fletcher’s apparent abuses come to the light. In my opinion, there is more, much more, to come. I have heard unsettling reports from others of the worrisome behavior of leaders associated with the COE. Some of the names are even known in the US.
In C.S.Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Eustace was a rather nasty little boy who was turned into a dragon.
Following Aslan, he was taken to a pool where he wanted to bathe his leg. Aslan told him that he must first undress. Scratching and clawing himself, Eustace desperately tried to shed his scales like a snake skin. After three times through this ordeal, he began to fear that he would never be rid of the scales. Aslan’s voice told him, “You will have to let me undress you,” and he tore the skin from Eustace, picked him up, and dropped him into the pool. As Eustace washed, he realized that his arm was no longer in pain because he had turned back into a boy. He returned to the camp and told Edmund what had happened to him, and it was Edmund who revealed that the lion must have been Aslan.
The COE, just like the SBC and other churches and denominations, needs to proceed in that difficult process of removing the thick, ugly scales that have built up through the years. There must be an accounting and that means shedding the protective covering of the public school connections. In the US, we call it the *good old boy* network. I predict it will be a long process to get to the truth as well as to reach out and help the victims that have been wounded like those who have accused Jonathan Fletcher. He will not be the only one. More will be revealed so learn how to do right by the victims. #churchtoo #COEtoo
(He claims he *withheld chocolate?” I am laughed so hard that I scared my dear pug dogs.)
PS I am interested in stories from the UK to post here. I will treat all correspondence on the matter with absolute confidentiality. Also, please read my cryptic words at the beginning of the post. I have a feeling that those who know of these things will understand what I mean.
I suspect there is stuff going on in the “inner circle” of the religious kingdom that would raise the hair on the back of our necks. Ezekiel got a look at the inner ring of bad boys in his day:
“He brought me to the inner court of the Lord’s house. And behold, at the entrance to the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east; and they were bowing down toward the east and worshiping the sun. He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? Is it too slight a thing for the house of Judah to commit the repulsive acts which they have committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and repeatedly provoked Me to anger? … Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare them; and though they cry loudly in My ears, yet I will not listen to them.” (Ezekiel 8)
“Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark … They say, ‘The Lord does not see us'”
Oh yes, He does … payday someday.
“It is important to understand that it is not the fault of the church if an abuser is present, either in positions of leadership or general membership. Such individuals have deeply rooted psychiatric issues and need to be confronted. It is the fault of the church leadership or membership if they know such a person is present and do nothing about it.”
Excellent point right out of the starting gate of this post.
Due diligence upon discovery is the key.
-independent NOT internal investigations & YES investigate
-DOJ engagement for assessment & processing of criminal behavior
-no whack-a-mole or pass-the-trash so the predator emerges elsewhere
-no cheap grace, no quick forgiveness as cover, no theological tricks
Good Ol’ Boy network? I don’t know if there was a Southern Baptist church in Hazzard, but religion did not feature very highly in “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
And again we come to the fundamental issue that pervades church laity – the difference between faith and belief, a distinction Christ himself made. To those he healed and forgave outside the dominant belief system, he said “your *faith* has made you well.* Not ‘beliefs,’ a different word in the Gospels.
Many fall prey to using ‘belief’ as a proxy for faith, which even Calvin considered insufficient and the reason for the ‘p’ in tulip. Thus, whether you believe you are good because of either something you believe, your level of prosperity, or some ritual you observe, you may actually be evidencing a deficit of faith, something that seems to be inhabited by confidence, hope, assurance as the constant, but that belief(s) are better always provisional, subject to testing and adjustment.
Let’s consider the Prosperity Gospel, something that bleeds into the more evangelical world view: we conflate wealth with intelligence, moral superiority, or intellectual superiority. But those, actually, are beliefs. But insofar as all these superduper pastors are wealthy, they are blessed, right? I can trust them, right?
Put your faith in Christ alone, and put your beliefs to the test. It is OK to jettison some of them. Your faith will make you well.
And it’s right after this that the glory of the Lord left the temple. That is terrifying.
I have the impression that there was, in the past in some UK private schools, a considerable amount of what in US would be called, I think, “hazing”. I’m wondering if that’s accurate and, if so, to what extent this culture of male mistreatment of social/class inferiors might have propagated in the churches.
Just Daisy Duke jiggle and flying Dodge Chargers.
I can’t remember who said this, but “The dark side of American culture is Race. The dark side of British culture is Class.”
Ichabod has been hanging out in the American church for years. There’s not enough spiritual power in it to blow the dust off a peanut. Some individual church exceptions of course, but they are a rare and endangered species.
Yes, I can believe all the stuff the American church shovels my way … but that doesn’t produce one ounce of faith.
A tendency to mania is misconstrued as laudable enthusiasm. Just bring along a new formula or ingredient: or the same old “new” one, such as bad amplifying.
The bloody Church of England
In chains of history
Requests your earthly presence
At the vicarage for tea
— Jethro Tull 1971 —
Totally off-topic: LOVE LOVE that book(Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and, for many of us humans, Eustace is such a wonderful representation of the conversion experience. Thanks for using that quote and reminding us of our fallibility — and our perfectibility.
Agree, it’s my favorite of the Narnia Chronicles, also!
Fond though I am of Anglicanism, the C of E bears an awful lot of responsibility for historical wrongs… and has tried in the past few decades to face that.
Separately, I would be surprised if issues of abuse in the C of E were limited to the Evangelical wing. That wing is rather new, but rumors of bullying, hazing, and sexual abuse (specifically of choirboys) go back centuries.
Decreases in abuse might owe something to exposure and enlightenment, but the worldwide Anglican Communion has also lost much of its power and located more of its humility. It does steer away from literalism, inerrancy, and strict gender roles, depending on the practices of the various national churches within the Communion. In the US, of course, the Episcopal Church tends to be a fairly mellow mainline experience. Outside the Episcopal Church, Anglican churches in the US run the gamut.
And the dark side of every culture is Gender. (Very much a generalization, like the other truisms.)
You’re quite right about abuse being more widespread and that the C of E has tried to address it. Here is a report published in October 2020 on the subject.
The one which killed the big-budget movie versions of Narnia halfway through the series; I really wanted to see if they had the guts when they got to “A Horse and His Boy” and “The Last Battle”.
Then there was the “8th Chronicle of Narnia”(set AFTER The Last Battle) I remember reading in a dream many years ago — and couldn’t remember a single word of it after I woke up.
If we look at how Virginia Roberts Giuffre fights the good fight against those who traffick that she knows from firsthand experience, and how these very powerful & very evil men & women in her case yet may thrive in our world …
… we know that though right & truth matter & there are witnesses (survivors), & we need to actively advocate … some of the evil & powerful men & women will in the end only be brought down by our Lord in Eternity. Institutions seem to overwhelming favor the strongmen & the women who love them.
Thinking of Ahab & Jezebel & their crimes against Naboth …
Also, our Lord Jesus vs Barabbas & the mob that chose a criminal over God.
When Christians live like “the rules or science or realities don’t apply to us” … it can be dangerous for a community:
“The region has played host to flash mobs of anti-maskers ransacking malls, a Christian rock singer and anti-masker unleashing his fans on skid row”
In another national news story today, a church in small town MN wisely had a restraining order for a person they saw as dangerous to their fellowship, and today that person was a mass shooter at a community health clinic, unfortunately.
THAT church faced the reality of a dangerous person; they engaged LE to protect their people. Good decision. There are some situations the local church cannot neither solve nor tolerate in the large group socially. Not to be judgmental, as God is the ultimate Judge. But regarding what we can handle in our church social settings, we need to be humble and honest.
As well as the IICSA report above, if recommend taking a look at the surviving church bloom which has been covering abuse in the CofE for some time : http://survivingchurch.org/
We have to examine what “conviction” is. The scene gets more surreal. (I’ve not read any Narnia books.) In addition to (with no doubt Dee’s conscious irony) a fictional body dysmorphic boy whose scales meant to him and the voice he heard shame, the latter also telling him to undress, we have the following job advert in Church Times (to which I subscribed for a few months):
Job of the Week
Associate Archdeacon, Mission and Transition Enabler
Yorkshire and Lincs
The Diocese of Sheffield is called to grow a diverse network of Christ-like, lively and sustainable Christian communities in every place, which are effective in making disciples and in seeking to transform our society and God’s world
The dominionist Diocese of Sheffield has constantly been in trouble for about 30 years I think.
Almost no denomination asks ordinary members to each prayerfully discern their parish’s strategy. They might pretend to but most people’s opinion will get filtered out or they don’t get asked to pray.
Proper apostolic tradition in Scripture meanings show Holy Spirit in each as enabler, otherwise it soon gets like some form of abuse enabler, however watered down they try to make it.
“Lively” is lame 1970s RC jargon, re-warmed.
Disciples, they craftily don’t mention for whom. Is their network really one of “mycorrhizal glomeromycota of the Sadducees and Pharisees”? (When not pharisaical they are meant to be beneficial to plants’ growth.)
Transforming society = dominionism. And take over of what is God’s.
In several churches-within-churches I knew (one of them Anglican) the right remedy for the moral equivalency, dumbing down and stringing along (with a view to turning us into a robotic flash mob) would not have been “more of the same”.
I never thought conviction of sin meant shame to my being, I just thought it meant guidance which way not to go (in Holy Spirit strength) (but that was just me). Symbolism in old fashioned fables and myths about transformed people / animals works better when they deliberately don’t attempt to do psychology.
On the other hand the designer outlet lot think they are “once saved” – by shaming, with the result they risk being both marked by shame and resist true conviction (some true believers that join those outfits play along and can’t balance them up enough).
“Putting off” the old man & “putting on” the new one, is about a God-given result not a process managed by bosses. Which voice was the boy in the story hearing?
P.s in the C of E and some nonconformists, the pattern is that the church-within-the-church comprises a whole local congregation (camouflaged by different churchmanship as inn the extract above), while in RC it is a society or pretend order.
As long as we are in this world, science and reality apply to Christians! If we are too heavenly minded, we will be of no earthly use. It’s a sad day when Christians disobey government authorities who are simply trying to keep them and their communities safe. During this pandemic, science has advised us to wear a mask, sanitize our hands, social distance … because the reality is our neighbors are dying from a deadly disease which can be controlled by these recommendations. So Christian, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” AND slip on your mask when you go out the door.
I truly believe that most folks within America’s institutional church, when faced with persecution, would shout “Give us Barabbas!”
i.e. “Science” Falsely So-Called or WORD! OF!! GAWD!!!
“As for me and mine, We Shall Serve The LOOOOOOOORD!!!”
Very familiar with the concept from my time in-country.
Is anyone really surprised by “Jesus Christ Superspreader”?
What you casll hazing is alive and well in the public school system (think schools like Eton, etc.)in the UK. The Crown shows this happening with Charles. However, it has been far worse than depicted. I don’t know if there is any effort to change this acceptable form of abuse.
Speaking of Jezebel, there’s this from two wing-nut pastors in Texas:
I am planning on featuring this blog in a near future post.People need to know about it.
Michael in UK,
I am on a steep learning curve about what is going on in the CoE (including how to write the abbreviation!) I plan to write a few posts in the near future and insight into the process is desired. The US has different libel laws and I am able to boldly write some things which might not be allowed in the UK.
Thanks for your insight … about conviction and the Holy Spirit. Watchman Nee’s book “Spiritual Reality or Obsession” discusses and illustrates this with real life examples. Classic, helpful, & right on with your comment. Nee’s Karma came in the next life. He spent decades in prison. Didn’t profit from book publishing, unlike current day preachers.
PRAYER REQUEST: I have an appointment for COVID vaccination tomorrow … but, icy roads may prevent me from getting to the clinic. Vaccine doses have just made it to our area for the 65+ age group. Please pray that the roads are treated in time for me to safely make it to my appointment and back in the morning. I’m a caregiver for my wife who is recovering from surgery and need to get this done. Thanks Wartburgers.
Prayed for you, Max, and for minimal side effects and good immune reaction. Good luck!
Count me in too Max.
I’ve seen it happen several times (mostly outside C of E). Perhaps people who sponsor or propose a new trainee or someone half way through their clergy career, for a post, make this mistake first, and that sways final decision takers, then as the person leaves a trail of confusion ranks close, it’s more or less “natural” in a way that St Paul asks us to prayerfully discern so we can tactfully and smoothly keep on getting things on a good path (with OR without pills) as we always ought to have been helping doing.
Single minister models and the elder clique model are the least effective in helping this happen. We are always told not to diagnose: well some pastors with education can spend a few minutes self diagnosing sometimes. The NHS rarely addresses mania by the way. Moral: pastors and ministers need true friends and not toadies or string pullers (within or outside the structure, depending on denomination).
Praying for you and your family! Be careful.
C of E was one of my staging posts in my multi-denominational odyssey (I definitely don’t call it “pilgrimage”, on purpose: words like “pilgrimage” or “transition” seem too Heideggerian). I am grateful for (more or less) all the characters I’ve met in every church. In recent days a number of C of E people have come looking for me, a good sign they are not oblivious.
A prominent biologist has attested what “went on” in all his three schools (run by vicars not serving in parishes) and I think you must not be too ambitious around this. I think it will take generations to iron the after effects of that out of our “establishment”. Some scandals are extra sad and slow moving.
The events I saw could have been dealt with better, with more alertness by some and less arm twisting by others, and a clearer view of christian life by the bulk of average pew members. In some experiences including my most recent C of E one, a more overt impact on church belonging was felt but with a less sinister underlay, than in other cases.
I think the pliable fringe of the “evangelical wing” (e.g Torontulators-Bethelators with unreflective swallowing – rather than digesting – of Brompton materials) are the ones to watch most, perhaps with the addition of “ranks” in charge of clergy discipline (the CDM should have been made more multi layered). Those wielding the belatedly and ham fistedly drawn up CDM inevitably look clumsy. Law around clergy was originally mainly designed with good motives to prevent ministers being unjustly ejected by overlords or cliques (which did happen).
Fake charismatic came in, with the result non-charismatics think they are forbidden to be proper charismatic. The whole thing of church problems is more theology based than some think. Discipline / good guidance is relational; the charismatic is relational. Both times, Holy Spirit in the triangle.
The Smyth, Fletcher and Ball cases devastated the C of E because of the failure of church order. Ball had been promoted to bishop (by whom, I’m not sure) as a known predator. Result: vagueness around how or why bishops should be disciplined.
At Christ Church Oxford the Dean is of the Cathedral and a college at the same time. First some canons tried to blame dons for trying to oust the dean regarding the misconduct of their governing body in a college safeguarding case, then there is a separate complaint about some aspect of the dean’s practice in post.
I’ve seen in many denominations one person carrying the can when several underlings or superiors should have shared responsibility. And a stupidly framed measure can make an Archbishop look like a melodramatic jobsworth as case after case hits headlines. Some overseeing bishops’ dereliction was slight and some, severe.
In the Lincoln case I don’t see why investigation took 20 months unless that bishop doggedly kept denying his role that long. In the RC a frequent defence by some middle rankers (as well as superior superiors) is that a superior kept them out of the loop: well that is a bad model in any denomination: everybody should help everybody.
Saw this on a tweet today, and wonder if this is true of the church as an org:
“Once you are okay with rape, anything goes.”
Like, watershed event. From there the downfall. Black hole.
Praying for you as well, Max.
Praying for you as well, Max.
Praying for safe roads, and your wife’s recovery.
I think Dee has it at 10.51 yesterday. All sorts of “dares” at the underdog’s expense. Trendy ways of “baring somebody’s soul” for them. So that they become worthy of “us”. In a lesser way, it is whether they can survive 50 minutes of bad amplifying and don’t rebel at being made to become passive.
How Long Has This Been Going On?
Stats…There are 26 CofE bishops in the House of Lords. Only fifteen percent of the population identify as CofE affiliation, …Out of six million population. Fifty three percent identify as possessing absolutely no religion. Seventy three percent of young people to age twenty four identify as having no religion. Twenty CogE churches close every year. The naked truth? England state religion is apparently a bust. Go fish…
Paul Carracks How Long tune seem appropriate…
YOUR PRAYERS ANSWERED: Made it to the clinic OK this morning for my COVID vaccination (Moderna). No side-effects. Highway maintenance crews worked throughout the night to clear ice & snow from the route I took. In fact, the first truck came by our house within 30 minutes after I asked you to pray! Thanks Wartburgers for your prayers! God is good … ALL the time!
Praying for you. I have received my first one and it went well.
Whoops! Prayersd were too late. Congrats!
Sorry to hijack the thread with a prayer request, but needed to get the prompt attention of Wartburgers cruising the site last evening. TWW is starting to feel like church.
All went well with the vaccination, travel on icy roads, and return home. And my wife is doing better today. Bracing now for another winter storm headed our way this weekend. Darn groundhog!
I’m sure there is abuse somewhere in schools in the UK. However, a lot of the public schools now accept both boys and girls, have increased diversity, and might have a greater number of day students.
The maltreatment of Prince Charles at Gordonstoun in the 1960s supposedly had something to do with his being heir apparent. Most of us are not that. 😉
Yes, your analysis of the number of seats for C of E bishops in the House of Lords is correct, according to Wikipedia. But… “state religion”? You do realize people are not required to go, or tithe, eh? People in the UK have freedom of religion, just like Americans.
The Church of England is much smaller than in the past, and it might indeed be dying out. However, vitality remains in it. Parish and cathedral life mean a great deal to many who participate. Let’s not just dismiss that.
Thx for the update. Praise God.
I can See For Miles?
Friend, Excuse me, but buildings don’t make churches, people do. Plus, the Crown is concerned with the rising sum of Islamic adherents, and state church closings. Stats are predicting total
lack of revelency around 2050, which is quite alarming. In conclusion, a thriving church is measured by its youth occupancy, which effectively no longer exists. CofE is a ghost town, let’s not make it a statistical graveyard as well. Go fish.
Mike Dawes – Jump (Van Halen) Solo Acoustic Guitar, thoughtfully comes to mind…
Gentle disagreement from here. Yes, it’s alarming when the population of a church ages, with few younger members. But demographics are not the same as truth or worthiness. There are not many Quakers. Does that mean there should be no Quakers at all, or that Quakers have nothing to offer?
Megachurches like to claim that high attendance and large numbers of young people mean that they are offering authentic Christianity, maybe even the One True Faith. Is that the case? Observant readers of TWW will note the tactics deployed to fill the pews in the megas.
p.s. I did not mention buildings, although admittedly parish and cathedral worship do often take place indoors.
You can have my pinball crown?
State Church properties are being snapped up at bargain basement prices.
Yet IM SURE THE Union Jack still has a few tricks remaining up it’s sleeve…
YET, This deef, dumb, and blind kid will keep their hip waiters on, thank you very much…
Mike Massé nails this
acoustic Who cover – ya think?
A nation going without Jesus is a choice…
Just a thought…
Sensing a contradiction here. You don’t want a state religion, but here you suggest that nations risk something if they collectively do not choose Jesus.
I like my freedom of religion. Christianity is still the majority religion in the US, through a multitude of private choices. It bothers me when preachers assert that God will punish America for doing X or not doing Y. Why would God punish me for the actions of millions of others who share my nationality? In my view, this is an Old Testament idea selectively applied to our place and time.
Abide with Me?
Two things come to mind here. Jesus said if I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself. Jesus also said, I am the vine and you are the branches, he who abides in me and I in him shall bare much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Is the CofE fruit dying on the vine without substantial abiding in Jesus? Even deminished light is better than no light at all. The Crown, as representative truth, has a golden opportunity here. God said, if my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, pray, and seek my face, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land. Such apparently is the necessity of the hour. Will the Union Jack rise to the occasion?
Blood toil sweet and tears?
God save the Queen…
Abide With Me (Eventide).
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge,
I attended a boarding school up in Northwest closed to Blackpool in the mid-80s.
“Bullying” in my boarding school is not the same as “hazing” in U.S. My understanding is that “hazing” in US happens when someone wants to be “in” a group. It is a form of initiation. “Bullying” in my boarding school days is for the seniors/upper classes group to put the juniors/lower classes in their place.
In my boarding school, juniors has duties such as polishing seniors’ dress shoes if they desired, bringing milk back to the “house” (domitory), carrying seniors laundry to the laundary place in the school, etc. When the duty was not carried out, when the juniors drank the milk before the seniors, when juniors talk back to seniors, and when juniors unwilling to follow orders, they will be punished (can turned into a bullying situation in a heart beat)
Seniors as the upper classmen are endowed with certain rights. The main one is to maintain pecking order i.e not letting juniors to subvert their authority. When the line is cross knowningly or unknownlingly, you get punished because you forget your duty or being cocky/cheeky to a seniors. Punishment can be from being ordered to swim laps at 6am in freezing cold water, your bed (a metal frame with a mattress) being flipped in the middle of the night while you are sound asleep, receiving a wedgy – underwear pulled from behind until it is ripped or hung on a door handle, running personal errands for a senior, receiving a head flush in the toilet bowl, etc. All done without any requirement to report back to school authority. Seniors are the ones that dishes out “disciplines” and maintain order.
This is the British class system in a small scale. The class hierarchy and the execise of authority is commonly understood and accepted. This is the air they breathe just as US breathes individulism – “you may have a good reason for wearing a mask but you cannot make me wear one. I will wear one if I want to.” Watch Downtown Abby and note how the servants behave under the bulter. The bulter is the top of the servant class. Lower class servants will not be allowed to upsurp the bulter’s authority.
Isn’t that called “Hazing”?
Specifically Hazing used to domesticate and groom future victims?
Yes, 100%. I don’t know what passes for hazing in the US, but in public schools it can be anything from forcing another (much younger) child to clean one’s shoes, to physical beatings and sodomy. Stephen Fry has spoken about his experiences, including being sexually assaulted by an older boy. And he tries to make light of it as “something that everyone experienced at school”, which is also a fairly typical response. Very rough horseplay is also considered the norm, and boys are expected to toughen up and “be a man”. Bearing in mind that some children start at these schools age 7, and are living away from home and parental guidance and care, its a very distressing situation.
I’m a Brit, and none of this surprises me in the slightest. There are two things beyond the obvious problem of having an abuser in the church, which feed in to this.
1) This is very normal behaviour in public schools, as many people have commented already. Boys are sent to these places from as young as 7. It’s a relic of the Empire, when one had a tutor or nanny as a young child, and then was sent “home” (ie back to England) while parents remained in whatever outpost they were working in. Schools were intended to raise servants of the Empire, or Her Majesty’s realm, in later years. Not just preparing kids for life and career, but a very specific version of what that life and career should be. Armed Forces, Civil Service, government, banking, stuff like that. A certain outlook on life is expected. It’s a weird combination of being extremely posh but also very ready to rough it in a tent in Kenya. It sounds very stereotypical and outdated, I know, but that attitude remains. The abuse is part of that, because it makes you part of that boys’ club, and also is kind of a shameful secret that can be exposed if you dare to go against what that class of people want you to do. “Get me this promotion or position, or I’ll tell everyone how you buggered that ten year old”. Sorry to be callous but that’s literally how their minds work.
2) British people in general are not good at giving emotional support. I have a working theory that two world wars in two generations left a good chunk of our population traumatised. I mean that sincerely. Emotions are still considered a private matter by a lot of people. Less so with younger generations, but certainly my parents and grandparents would consider it unseemly to cry in public. My mother apologised to me for crying on the phone when she was telling me her best friend died. Her best friend… to me it’s totally normal to cry at that, but she was embarrassed at having lost control.
“Thinking of you” is considered a normal response. Sending a card is seen as a deeply caring act. We absolutely suck at sitting with people and allowing them to express feelings. Grief that lasts longer than a few months is considered an illness. I left my husband because of domestic abuse, and my church decided that 2 months was enough to stop being afraid of him, even though he was still attending the same church as me. And the church in general is behind the population on moral issues, giving sermons on “how to wrestle with current issues” which society has been dealing with for decades. There is so much that needs to change.
Sorry for the long essay, just wanted to give some thoughts from a British perspective.
Very good point! It’s not about wanting initiation into a club, but about preparing you for knowing your place in society. It’s partly why people like Boris Johnson are so arrogant. They genuinely feel like they’ve worked their way up, or rather endured their way up, through all this abuse, and finally made it. The system is designed so you know your place, so when you’re at the top of power you KNOW you’re meant to be there, and no criticism can change that. Anyone who speaks against you is a junior being “cheeky” and who needs to be put in their place, not an educated, wise equal who might have a valid point.