Methodist Church issues progress report on Past Cases Review

A year after the apology to survivors and victims ofabuse, and the publication of Courage, Cost & Hope - the reporton the Past Cases Review (PCR), the Methodist Church has given anupdate to the Methodist Conference, the supreme decision-makingbody of the Church, about its work over the past 12months. 

In May 2015, the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, who was then serving asSecretary of the Methodist Conference and General Secretary, issueda full and unreserved apology to survivors and victims of abuse inresponse to the Past Cases Review report. 

A huge amount of work has been undertaken so far by the PastCases Review Implementation Group (PCRIG) on the report's 23recommendations. 

Survivors' Reference Group

The Implementation Group explored about how best to engage withsurvivors and victims of abuse within the Church, and how to ensuretheir voices informed the work of the group and the implementationof the report's 23 recommendations. 

It was agreed to establish a survivors' reference group toensure that all policies and guidelines or training materials thatwere produced in line with the recommendations would be informed bya survivor/victim perspective. 

Engaging with survivors/victims is wider than just receivingtheir views on the PCR recommendations and to further developunderstanding of their perspective, the Chair of the ImplementationGroup, the Revd Gwyneth Owen, and Tim Carter, attended a survivors'conference organised by the Liverpool District project ChurchAction on Sexual Abuse Issues (CASAI) in January. 

There have also been extensive discussions with the Church ofEngland's Safeguarding Team and others as to how support forsurvivors/victims can be improved and definite proposals willshortly be produced.


Recommendation 7 of Courage, Cost and Hope stated that "a systemof structured supervision for ministers be instituted to addressthe identified weakness in relation to accountability and supportin terms of safe practice". Significant progress has been made onthis. 

A pilot programme of supervision for ministers in two Districts- Liverpool and South East - is expected to last until at leastJanuary 2017 in order to ensure that sufficient levels of feedbackfrom the participants is obtained. 

Resources and appropriate training in supervision skills havebeen  offered to the District Chairs and deputy Chairs and thesuperintendents of the two pilot Districts. 

The Implementation Group is also delighted to report that anexcellent team of accredited senior supervision practitioners hasbeen co-opted as supervisors of the District Chairs and will beco-ordinated by the Revd Dr Jane Leach and the Assistant Secretaryof the Conference. Formal 1:1 supervision of all District Chairswill be in place from 1st September this year.

The pilot programme is also already offering insights into howattractive the prospect of group supervision might be but alsoevidencing how demanding in reality it is to do well. 

Ministerial code of conduct

In April 2016 a working party was created to consider thecreation of a code of ministerial practice. The draft code ofconduct or practice will be presented to the Methodist Council inJanuary 2017 in order that it might be presented to the 2017Conference.

Recording pastoral practice

The Implementation Group recommends that records are kept of allpastoral visits to people in their own homes as best practice. Sucha pro-forma or log can be used in hard copy or be made availableelectronically. Interest has been expressed in this record beingavailable as an app, for example. The recommendation to theConference is that a log of visits should be kept by all involvedin pastoral visits especially when the person undertaking the visitis not accompanied.

Complaints and discipline 

A significant number of the recommendations relating toComplaints and Discipline processes have been achieved includingincreased training, more legal guidance, and updated trainingresources. 

Safeguarding training and policy

There have been discussions in a number of settings aboutproducing materials for wider discussion within church communitiesabout safe relationships.

It is hoped to start work on reviewing safeguarding policiesshortly, and this will be done in co-operation and consultationwith the Church of England Safeguarding Team who are also reviewingtheir policies.


The Implementation Group expects to be able to report to the2017 Conference that all the recommendations of the report will beimplemented in full or with a clear process and timetable forcompleting the implementation set out.

We again acknowledge the courage of the survivors and victimswho relived exceptionally difficult, life-changing, experiences toparticipate in the review. 

As the work of the Implementation Group progresses, we alsoremember the need for ongoing culture change throughout the Church,especially for its ministers and leaders, the lessons that continueto be learnt, and the commitment to improve safeguarding practiceacross the Connexion.  

Our constant prayer is that this work ensures the Church is asafe place for all. 

A prayer which we asked all churches to use close to theanniversary of the report's publication

For those who are abused and those who abuse;

for those who are careless about others and those who arecareful;

for those who offer guidance through the dark and those whoendeavour to safeguard the vulnerable: 

good Lord, we pray.

Good Lord, give hope to the hurt and a sense of your love andrightness. May we all be led into safe and sound living. Give usyour strength for today, your hope for tomorrow and the light ofyour love to guide us in all things. 


The Revd Helen Cameron, Assistant Secretary of the MethodistConference, is available for interview. Please contact the MediaOffice on 020 7467 5191 and speak to Mike Ivatt or TobyFairclough.