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Unreserved Apology Thirtyone/8

The Revd William Taylor, rector of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate issued an apology to his congregation and those whom he might have hurt in his comments on the Thirtyone:8 charity’s review of the Jonathan Fletcher/Emmanuel Church Wimbledon investigation.

In part, he said:

“I have asked today for a further opportunity to address the church family about recent events flowing from the publication of the 31:8 report commissioned by Emmanuel Church Wimbledon.

“I have been challenged rightly by churchwardens and staff colleagues about how I spoke last Sunday morning. They’ve challenged me graciously and firmly. The comments are fair, and I take them on board. I take full responsibility. I was wrong to speak as I did last Sunday. I caused hurt. I am sorry. I am grateful to have a team around me who are not afraid to speak up and challenge me. This I do not take for granted and I pray they will continue to be more concerned to fear God than to fear man, and so raise any concerns or questions. And that brings me to my main apology. In our church family, as well as in the wider church and society, there are many who are survivors of abuse and injustice of many kinds, including those who suffered from abuse by Jonathan Fletcher and, amongst them, the victim member of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG). I deeply regret that my statement last week has caused you pain. I fully accept that this has been the case and this unreserved apology is to you. I also apologise to those whose confidence in reporting has been knocked; some of you may have thought as a result of my statement that any concerns you might report would be dismissed. This is not the case; our safeguarding team here takes all concerns seriously and I am sorry to have undermined confidence in this important part of our work here at St Helen’s. Please do speak up. We will listen to you. We love you and care for you.

I apologise that my comments about the external members of the IAG undermined what I said about the 31:8 Review. It is a substantial and serious piece of work. I, and others, have been reading the 31:8 Review and the IAG statement with care. I can already see things in the recommendations made by 31:8 that we need to implement at St Helen’s. There are bound to be other things that need to be changed.

Taylor also apologised for quoting from a text from the Revd John Stevens of the FIEC without prior approval.

Turning back to his main purpose, he continued:

“We are already planning how best as a church to consider carefully the 31:8 Review. We will say more at our annual church meeting in a few weeks, when we will set out how we will consider and report back on the many recent reviews that have reported in other Christian settings, including the 31:8 Review.

Please would you be praying for our collective humility as we do so. Also please join us as we continue praying for those who have suffered abuse.I am sorry, really sorry. I hope those who have been hurt by what I said will forgive me. And I hope you will find real comfort from the Lord Jesus.”
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