Methodist Church issues progress report on Past Cases Review
06 July 2016
A year after the apology to survivors and victims of
abuse, and the publication of Courage, Cost & Hope - the report
on the Past Cases Review (PCR), the Methodist Church has given an
update to the Methodist Conference, the supreme decision-making
body of the Church, about its work over the past 12
In May 2015, the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, who was then serving as
Secretary of the Methodist Conference and General Secretary, issued
a full and unreserved apology to survivors and victims of abuse in
response to the Past Cases Review report.
A huge amount of work has been undertaken so far by the Past
Cases Review Implementation Group (PCRIG) on the report's 23
Survivors' Reference Group
The Implementation Group explored about how best to engage with
survivors and victims of abuse within the Church, and how to ensure
their voices informed the work of the group and the implementation
of the report's 23 recommendations.
It was agreed to establish a survivors' reference group to
ensure that all policies and guidelines or training materials that
were produced in line with the recommendations would be informed by
a survivor/victim perspective.
Engaging with survivors/victims is wider than just receiving
their views on the PCR recommendations and to further develop
understanding of their perspective, the Chair of the Implementation
Group, the Revd Gwyneth Owen, and Tim Carter, attended a survivors'
conference organised by the Liverpool District project Church
Action on Sexual Abuse Issues (CASAI) in January.
There have also been extensive discussions with the Church of
England's Safeguarding Team and others as to how support for
survivors/victims can be improved and definite proposals will
shortly be produced.
Recommendation 7 of Courage, Cost and Hope stated that "a system
of structured supervision for ministers be instituted to address
the identified weakness in relation to accountability and support
in terms of safe practice". Significant progress has been made on
A pilot programme of supervision for ministers in two Districts
- Liverpool and South East - is expected to last until at least
January 2017 in order to ensure that sufficient levels of feedback
from the participants is obtained.
Resources and appropriate training in supervision skills have
been offered to the District Chairs and deputy Chairs and the
superintendents of the two pilot Districts.
The Implementation Group is also delighted to report that an
excellent team of accredited senior supervision practitioners has
been co-opted as supervisors of the District Chairs and will be
co-ordinated by the Revd Dr Jane Leach and the Assistant Secretary
of the Conference. Formal 1:1 supervision of all District Chairs
will be in place from 1st September this year.
The pilot programme is also already offering insights into how
attractive the prospect of group supervision might be but also
evidencing how demanding in reality it is to do well.
Ministerial code of conduct
In April 2016 a working party was created to consider the
creation of a code of ministerial practice. The draft code of
conduct or practice will be presented to the Methodist Council in
January 2017 in order that it might be presented to the 2017
Recording pastoral practice
The Implementation Group recommends that records are kept of all
pastoral visits to people in their own homes as best practice. Such
a pro-forma or log can be used in hard copy or be made available
electronically. Interest has been expressed in this record being
available as an app, for example. The recommendation to the
Conference is that a log of visits should be kept by all involved
in pastoral visits especially when the person undertaking the visit
is not accompanied.
Complaints and discipline
A significant number of the recommendations relating to
Complaints and Discipline processes have been achieved including
increased training, more legal guidance, and updated training
Safeguarding training and policy
There have been discussions in a number of settings about
producing materials for wider discussion within church communities
about safe relationships.
It is hoped to start work on reviewing safeguarding policies
shortly, and this will be done in co-operation and consultation
with the Church of England Safeguarding Team who are also reviewing
The Implementation Group expects to be able to report to the
2017 Conference that all the recommendations of the report will be
implemented in full or with a clear process and timetable for
completing the implementation set out.
We again acknowledge the courage of the survivors and victims
who relived exceptionally difficult, life-changing, experiences to
participate in the review.
As the work of the Implementation Group progresses, we also
remember the need for ongoing culture change throughout the Church,
especially for its ministers and leaders, the lessons that continue
to be learnt, and the commitment to improve safeguarding practice
across the Connexion.
Our constant prayer is that this work ensures the Church is a
safe place for all.
A prayer which we asked all churches to use close to the
anniversary of the report's publication
For those who are abused and those who abuse;
for those who are careless about others and those who are
for those who offer guidance through the dark and those who
endeavour to safeguard the vulnerable:
good Lord, we pray.
Good Lord, give hope to the hurt and a sense of your love and
rightness. May we all be led into safe and sound living. Give us
your strength for today, your hope for tomorrow and the light of
your love to guide us in all things.
The Revd Helen Cameron, Assistant Secretary of the Methodist
Conference, is available for interview. Please contact the Media
Office on 020 7467 5191 and speak to Mike Ivatt or Toby