News roundup: February 2020

01 March 2020, Thirtyone:eight

Here are our top safeguarding stories from February 2020.  To access or view the full articles click on the link embedded in the title:

Thirtyone:eight in the news:

>> Why Steve Timmis Was Accused of ‘Spiritual Abuse’

Lisa Oakley, thirtyone:eight research associate and co-author alongside Justin Humphreys of Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse: Creating Healthy Christian Cultures, spoke to Christianity Today to discuss what people should do if they think they are being spiritually abused, how spiritual abuse can also affect pastors, and why it may be hard for people to realise the unhealthy state of their church’s leadership.

>> Churches asked to pledge to improve how they respond to abuse

Thirtyone:eight’s Safer Places pledge, which encourages church leaders to get involved with a movement against abuse in churches, was covered by Premier Christian News, as well as Christian Today and the Church Times.

News headlines:

>> General Synod: Action promised on safeguarding

The General Synod responded to the interim Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse report, published last year. It carried an amended motion, promising “concrete actions” on safeguarding. Introducing the debate, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, reflected on his experience as lead bishop for safeguarding during the past four years, a position that he passed to the Bishop of Huddersfield at the end of February.

>> SPAC Nation: No criminal probe into evangelical church

Croydon North MP Steve Reed has described the Metropolitan Police’s decision not to launch a criminal inquiry as "perverse". The Met held a review into allegations of "fraud and other offences" against people associated with SPAC Nation, but has found no criminal action. However, two separate claims of fraud against individuals are being investigated, with one man arrested. SPAC Nation said it was "vindicated" and "truth always prevails".

>> Acts 29 CEO Removed Amid ‘Accusations of Abusive Leadership

Steve Timmis, CEO of church-planting network Acts 29, was acclaimed for his model of close church community. However, former members at his church in Sheffield, The Crowded House, claimed that he resorted to bullying and control. Fifteen people who served under Timmis described to Christianity Today a pattern of spiritual abuse through bullying and intimidation, overbearing demands in the name of mission and discipline, rejection of critical feedback, and an expectation of unconditional loyalty..

>> Westminster abuse claims: Police and parties 'turned blind eye'

Political institutions failed to respond to historical claims of child sexual abuse but there was no evidence of an organised paedophile network at Westminster, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has found. The inquiry said there had been a "significant problem" of deference towards people of public prominence. Its report said political parties and police had turned a "blind eye". Lord Steel, one of those it criticised, has now quit the Liberal Democrats.

>> I was wrong to call Jean Vanier a ‘living saint’

Premier Christianity editor Sam Hailes reflected on the news about Jean Vanier, who, almost a year after his death, has been accused of sexually abusing six women. Hailes said: “I wasn’t the only journalist to dub Jean Vanier a ‘living saint’, but that doesn’t excuse me. I was wrong to do so.”

>> Children left at risk of abuse after failures in safeguarding

Vulnerable children are being left at risk of sexual abuse from within their family by the failings of state agencies tasked with keeping them safe, according to a report into child protection. It warns that shortcomings in police investigations, management of offenders and treatment of children showing worrying behaviour are allowing some perpetrators to continue their abuse unchecked.


Aerial view of a group of people looking at the camera

Not yet a member?

Get help, resources and advice that are right for your organisation from people who care and understand, plus get discounts on selected products and services along with all the benefits of being part of a supportive community of thousands of organisations nationwide.

Find out more