Statement to All “Representors” to the Trinity Church Commission (Corrected)

Please note the previous version of this statement published at 20:00 16th August 2015 suffered some word loss during publishing. Please accept our apologies and refer to this corrected version of the statement below.

We are deeply sorry and disappointed that the Commission came to an untimely end. We are fully aware of some of the disquiet and anguish that this could cause to those who hoped this process would have allowed their issues to be heard in a safe and constructive manner. The intention of the Commission was to create opportunity for healing and reconciliation wherever possible and to ensure that safeguards were put in place to prevent any repetition of past wrongs. Some will naturally feel these hopes have now been dashed.

However, it is still our intention to achieve these objectives and to that end we would greatly appreciate your help. We have invited Phil Hills and David Shearman to lead us in this whole process. They have set up an email address secure@teenchallenge.org.uk

If you have anything that you would like to communicate with them or if you would be willing to forward statements that you had previously sent to the Commission this would assist them greatly. They are investigating the historic general culture of the church and will seek to identify any aspects of unhealthy culture that still remain. We would assure you that we have not been shown any of the statements that have been made to the Commission and they remain confidential to the Commission.

They have also made provision for professional counselling to be available to any who are still struggling with past hurts and would appreciate support to find healing. If you would like to avail of this you should let them know through the email address above. This address is independent of Trinity Church’s IT and will only be accessed by Phil and David.

There is no time restriction on those who want to bring information to light or seek help with healing. However, Phil and David intend to bring a report to the Trustees and Leaders and to draw up an action plan from this by the end of October 2015. Both of these will be published on the Trinity Church website. This timeframe is intended to encourage restorative actions as quickly as possible but should not prevent any who are hurt from coming forward at a later date.

The abortive ending of the Commission is a massive disappointment to us but we believe its objectives were vitally important. Therefore, we have sought a mechanism whereby an even more robust process can be put in place to achieve those objectives. The invitation to Phil Hills and David Shearman is far wider reaching than the remit of the Commission. We have no expectation that these men would compromise their own integrity by overlooking any past failings. To do so would damage their reputations and it would be of no genuine help to Trinity Church. We trust this gives you some comfort in this most unfortunate situation.

Public Announcement Re: End of Commission

It is with the deepest regret that we have to announce that the Trustees and Leaders have made the decision to stand down the Commission. One of the commissioners wrote to the Trustees and Leaders expressing concern that they believed there was a significant likelihood that people could perceive that the Commission was not impartial. The commissioner identified a number of actions that they believed could lead people to that conclusion.

The Trustees and Leaders considered these issues carefully and took cognizance of the fact that the perception of independence is crucial and that the test of this is whether a “fair-minded and informed observer” could perceive the Commission not to be impartial. They concluded that a fair-minded and informed observer could perceive the Commission not to be impartial.

They could not countenance the possibility of the Commission running its course, only to have someone challenge the integrity of the process because of their perception of the Commission’s partiality.

The prospect of the Commission stalling at this stage was highly distasteful, however, the prospect of it completing its work, only to have that challenged would have been totally unacceptable. The Trustees and Leaders considered the possibility of appointing a new Commission. However, the idea of asking “representors” to work through that painful process again was deemed to be very much second best.

The Trustees and Leaders have decided to pursue the same objectives as the Commission through a different route in the hope that this will more comprehensively fulfil those objectives without any possibility of the process being aborted a second time in a similar way.

Steve Clifford and the Evangelical Alliance have been kept informed of these decisions. The Commissioners have also been informed.

The Trustees and Leaders have invited Phil Hills and David Shearman to now help progress our objectives. They will:

  1. investigate the historical general culture and report the key issues to the leaders and trustees
  2. give advice and direction on ensuring that a healthy church culture is developed and safeguards are built in to avoid any repetition of the past
  3. seek to identify any areas of toxic culture that remain and need to be removed
  4. create opportunities for those with hurts to be heard and/or offered professional help to find healing
  5. make themselves available to facilitate reconciliation in any way they can
  6. advise the trustees and leaders on a sufficiently robust structure of governance and leadership that ensures the accountability necessary in a healthy church
  7. give direction and leadership into the life of the church until such time as these new structures of governance and leadership are in place
  8. advise and work with the church in succession planning to ensure the long term well-being of the church

This alternative process will mean that the church will receive the direct intervention of seasoned leaders who are both men in good standing in their respective denominations with some eighty years of church leadership experience between them. They have committed themselves to invest significant time to help deal with the past and pursue the purpose of God for the future. Neither of these men has any historic involvement with this church nor the individual trustees and leaders. They were both only introduced to the church within the past four months.

It is recognised that the termination of the Commission will be a cause of turmoil for some who had hoped that their hurts would have been heard in a constructive way that could have led to restorative action. It would be deeply disappointing if this objective could not still be pursued. To that end a secure email address has been set up, entirely independent of Trinity Church, where confidential emails for the attention only of Phil Hills and David Shearman can be sent. The email address is secure@teenchallenge.org.uk.  Anyone who has already sent written submissions to the Commission and believe it would be helpful for Phil and David to see these are invited to use this facility.

The Trustees and Leaders have acted quickly in inviting the involvement of Phil Hills and David Shearman in the hope that restorative actions are not unduly delayed by the untimely termination of the Commission. It is expected that we will publish a report and an action plan on the Trinity Church website by the end of October.

Please pray, especially for those who have been hurt and caused further disquiet by the ending of the Commission and pray too that we might know great grace from God that as we walk through this process His Name might be held in high honour.

David Shearman has been in church leadership over 47 years and was senior pastor of the Christian Centre, Nottingham for over 36 years and he has 25years experience running a Christian School. He was a member of the National Leadership Team of the Assemblies of God. He is a leader and founder of the Breakthrough Network of Churches, an Ecumenical Canon in the Church of England and a Director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. David works with the Cathcon Trust to equip and resource the next generation of leaders.

Phil Hills has been in church leadership for over 33 years and has led various local churches in significant growth. He is an Elim Minister and a Director of Bridges for Peace. He is the Chief Executive of Teen Challenge UK and Vice President of Global Teen Challenge which is currently working in 110 nations of the world. Phil directs a full time leadership academy that is seeking to prepare young people to influence their world.

Leaders & Trustees