Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate Abused by John Smyth

Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate Reveals He Was Abused by John Smyth

The Revd William Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate has revealed that he was abused by the late John Smyth nearly 40 years ago.  The revelation comes in the midst of a number of safeguarding issues that have arisen from the Jonathan Fletcher scandal.  

In a statement from the parish released on 7 June, the Wardens of St Helens Bishopsgate stated:

“The wardens have shared the conclusions of an independent legal investigation which include that William Taylor had no knowledge of Jonathan Fletcher’s abuse before February 2019. At this point, William acted both to prevent Jonathan Fletcher engaging in ministry, in order to prevent further abuse or harm to victims, and to help victims come forward to receive help.

“With regard to John Smyth, after relentless social media speculation and pressure from a few on William and his family, the wardens report that William was one of Smyth’s victims. The wardens include the following personal statement from William:

“I became a Christian in December 1979, aged 18. I first remember meeting John Smyth in July 1981, as a young Christian aged 20. I was deceived by John Smyth and first beaten in Smyth’s shed in late August 1981. I recall being beaten twice more, the last in early December 1981. After that, I never went again. On 12 February 1982, I reported the beatings to the minister of the church I was attending at the time.

“My heart goes out to all those beaten by Smyth in this country and in Africa. In the last few years, I have become aware that others suffered far worse experiences than me and have endured long lasting effects. I am grateful that Smyth’s abuse is being thoroughly investigated and I have participated willingly in the Church of England review undertaken by Keith Makin.”

“Like many abused by John Smyth I have always wanted to keep his abuse of me private, though not secret. It is my hope that, having been forced to make my personal experience public, none of those abused by Smyth will have to face the same treatment I have faced online, which has had a significant effect on me and my family. I thank God for those who counselled and cared for me in 1982, and that God has blessed me with a loving family, close friends, and thirty years of pastoral ministry immersed in God’s living and active word.”