Update from Leaders & Trustees 19 April 2015

Commission Terms of Reference
 
The Commission team, under the Chairmanship of John Langlois, has debated and edited the draft Terms we proposed. John and his Commission team have now signed off the Terms. Please pray for God’s wisdom for the Commission team over the coming weeks and months.
 
The full text is below:

 

TRINITY CHURCH, BRENTWOOD

STATEMENT BY THE CHURCH LEADERSHIP

Terms of Reference of Commission of Inquiry

Background

Since the church was founded in 1977 God has greatly blessed its ministry. Many have come to faith in Christ and sick people have been physically healed. We thank God for His good hand upon His work among us.

Nevertheless there has been a dark period in our history. Under the leadership of our former senior pastor, Michael Reid, many things were done which did not conform to the great example given to us in the Person of Jesus Christ and in His teachings. Some of our unbiblical practices were based on the model of our former senior pastor, who taught us what we thought at the time were biblical truths, but were not. Like yeast permeating through dough, this permeated through the church, causing hurt and grief.   Many people were and remain emotionally hurt as a result of what they experienced. We, the leadership of the Church, repent of the times when we should have intervened but did not do so. Facts have also subsequently come to light that we did not know about at the time. We take corporate responsibility for what happened, as we acknowledged and apologised to the members and past members of the church in 2014.

Moving Forward

We are united as both leaders and members of the church in wanting to move on and be prepared for the things that God has in store for us in the future. To do this we realise that we have to address unresolved issues from the past, learn lessons from them and heal the emotional wounds that still remain. We hold out a hand of fellowship to all those who have been hurt and assure them that we want to listen to them, accept our shortcomings, ask forgiveness where we have done wrong, be reconciled to them in every way and move forward with them and with the whole church as brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they still attend Trinity or not. To do this we have concluded that we need outside help.

Appointment of a Commission of Inquiry

We have appointed a Commission of five people to advise us. They consist of a chairman, John Langlois, OBE, who has been nominated by the UK Evangelical Alliance. John has been a member of the EA Council for many years and has had long experience in resolving disputes. He has been in law practice as an Advocate of the Royal Court of Guernsey for over forty years and is a non-practising member of the English Bar. He is a Chartered Arbitrator and Mediator on the United Kingdom Commission of Arbitrators. The other Commission members are Neil Hornsby, Joan Dewhirst, Julia McGahon and Terry Mortimer.

Task of the Commission

The Commission will consider the representations of those who wish to give evidence to them, to establish the facts as to what happened in the past, investigate the historical general culture of the church and take a view on whether any remnants of erroneous culture remain.  The overarching purpose is to bring reconciliation to all who were hurt and provide input to the leaders and trustees to help develop strategies to continue to avoid errors in the future and, having addressed the past, assist them to move forward, leading a godly church modeled on the teachings and Person of Jesus Christ in order to build the Kingdom of God here in Brentwood. Approach to be adopted by the Commission

The Leaders of the Church have endorsed the approach that the members of the Commission have resolved to take to accomplish their task, which is as follows:

  1. The Commission invite all those who wish to make representations (“representators”) to set them out in writing and email them to BrentwoodCommission2015@gmail.com, an email address which is completely confidential to the members of the Commission alone, by 10 May 2015, that is, three weeks from today.
  2. The Commission will then invite representors to meet with them in person to clarify what they have written and to add to their evidence.
  3. The Commission will conduct their proceedings following due process and in accordance with best professional practice, that is to say:
  • Representors will be accorded the greatest of respect and all evidence received will be evaluated impartially.
  • The members of the Commission will reach out with Christian love and compassion with a process that endeavours to bring peace and forgiveness.
  • All evidence has to be given personally. No hearsay evidence will be heard (that is “I have been told by someone that…”). All evidence has to be the personal experience of the person giving it so that it can be verified.
  • Evidence will be heard solely in the presence of the Commissioners and the representor. No one else will be present. In their report to the Leaders and Trustees the Commission will keep the identity of representors confidential, unless anonymity is expressly waived. Nevertheless it has to be recognized that in a small community the facts themselves may sometimes reveal the identity of a representor, however diligent the Commission members may be.
  • In addressing the legacy issues referred to them the Commissioners wish to achieve finality so that a line can be drawn under the past to enable the church to move forward with confidence and with God’s help.
  • To achieve this the Commission members want all those individuals with issues to be addressed to approach them, to receive recognition of their hurts leading to repentance on the part of wrongdoers and reconciliation to the Body of Christ.
  • To facilitate openness the Commission members assure everyone that all they read and hear will be totally confidential to the members of the Commission alone.
  • Any evidence which suggests that potentially criminal conduct has been committed will not be heard or dealt with by the Commission. Similarly any evidence by a representor who indicates he or she has a claim in damages against the church will not be heard by the Commission. In each of these cases the appropriate action on the part of the complainant is to seek independent legal advice.

Publication of the Commission’s Report

Following feedback from the Leaders and Trustees, the Commission will publish their report with representors’ identities kept confidential (unless waived) and with the names of innocent people removed or anonymised. The Commission will ensure that the written report will not contain any names or facts which, if contained in it, would cause further hurt or grief. The Commission’s primary purpose in publishing the report will be to achieve reconciliation wherever possible and cause no more hurt.  Commitment  by The Leaders and Trustees of the Church

We, the Leaders and Trustees, want to learn from the findings of the Commission, and are fully committed to act on the findings.

Expected Timescale

The members of the Commission have informed us that they wish to proceed as soon as possible to take evidence and present their report to us but they have pointed out that bearing in mind the dates when both representors and Commission members will be available this process may take some months. They aim to publish their report as soon as possible and by early Autumn 2015 at the very latest.

Next steps

  • The Chair of the Commission will be introduced to the Church on Sunday 26 April 2015.
  • The Commissioners invite representors to submit evidence, including, but not limited to, church members, trustees, leaders and former members by 10 May 2015.
  • The Commissioners will review the evidence and prepare their written report.
  • The Commissioners will publish their full report and present it to the Leaders and Trustees .
  • The Leaders and Trustees will prepare an action plan based on the Commissioners’ report for presentation to the members of the church and implementation.

Queries

Any queries should be addressed to the Chairman of the Commission by sending an email to him at BrentwoodCommission2015@gmail.com

On behalf of the members of Trinity Commission 2015 I endorse and accept the above mandate.

John E. Langlois Chairman

19 April 2015