News by email Donate


Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

Alan Wilson picbanner.jpg
Church of England
Alan Wilson pic.jpg
Church of England
World News

Bishop of Buckingham was ‘true friend’ who will be 'sorely missed' say abuse survivors

by Donna Birrell

Survivors of church-related abuse and their advocates have been paying tribute to their “true friend” the Bishop of Buckingham who died unexpectedly at the weekend.

Throughout his ministry Rt Rev Alan Wilson who was 68, was a tireless campaigner and advocate for people who have suffered abuse and those on the margins. He and his chaplain of many years, Canon Rosie Harper provided support and a voice for those who found their own voices weren’t being listened to. They didn’t shy away from highlighting injustice even when challenging their own institution, the Church of England.

Premier has spoken to many survivors of abuse in a church context, including Gilo, who said:

“Alan was a lovely human being who combined huge intellect with enormous heart for others. He was head and shoulders above the bench of bishops in terms of integrity and fearlessness in speaking truth to power.

“He showed what a bishop could be.

“In a deeply broken Church, he and Rosie Harper, his wellspring and equal partner in justice work, have been a great team.

“A great soul has passed. We will not see his like again. I will miss him terribly.”

Another survivor, ‘Tony’ told Premier:

“Bishop Alan features as a strong, supportive and even campaigning presence throughout my case as a survivor of Church abuse. I am aware that this was often at odds to, and despite his prominent position within the Church. I’m immensely thankful to him. He will be very sorely missed.”

Survivors have said Bishop Alan along with Canon Harper, provided them with invaluable support throughout the hearings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). They also challenged the Church of England on behalf of survivors who felt their cases weren’t being heard, including in the case of John Smyth who was accused of abusing children and young adults at Christian summer camps in the 1970s and 80s. He died in 2018 before he could face trial.

One of his victims ‘Graham’, told Premier:

"Alan became the closest of allies and support to some victims of John Smyth QC. He combined gravitas with an irreverence (and a wicked laugh) and could move seamlessly from complete concentration and seriousness to a disarming chortle.

“I never felt Alan had any agenda other than open, unconditional support. He believed us, immediately, when others did not and gave freely of his time and energies.

“He will be sorely missed. Where do I now go for support among the Bishops?"

Bishop Alan and Canon Harper first became involved with the safeguarding failings in the Church in 2012 after an inquiry into child sexual abuse by Church of England clergy in Chichester.

Bishop Alan described it as “being the period of awakening” for him.

The Chair of the Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors support group (MACSAS),

Phil Johnson told Premier:

“I first met Bishop Alan more than a decade ago when he attended a meeting of MACSAS to offer his support to victims and survivors in their battles against the Church.

“He always put the needs of those who had been abused, marginalised and discriminated against above the image and reputation of the Church.

“He was a truly compassionate and pastoral man who was not afraid to put his head above the parapet and do and say what was right.

“He was a true friend to many survivors and he will be sorely missed.”

Richard Scorer, a solicitor who acts for many Church of England abuse survivors said:

“I found Alan incredibly empathetic. Not only with survivors, who always knew he was on their side, but with everyone he worked with. He also had a courage and independence of mind which is now rare in a Church of England episcopate increasingly dominated by dull managerialism. In private he could be coruscatingly funny, including about the Church of England establishment and the British establishment generally. His wit, courage and fundamental decency will be desperately missed.” 

Paying his tribute to Bishop Alan, safeguarding consultant Ian Elliott told Premier:

“I had the privilege to know Bishop Alan and to support his great interest in safeguarding vulnerable people in the Church.

“In my view, he was a truly outstanding person who was totally committed to being an effective witness to his faith.

“Social justice for him was not an abstract term but a call on his life.

“I count myself to be blessed to have known him and to have counted on him as a true friend.

“His loss to the Church will be immense.”

In 2019, Bishop Alan - who was a former trustee of Premier - and Canon Harper wrote a book entitled To Heal and Not to Hurt calling for a fresh approach to safeguarding saying “the mark of a healthy and authentically Christian community is not large numbers, inspiring worship, or dogmatic theology, but the way in which power is exercised within it.”

And paying tribute, another survivor Jo Kind told Premier:

"His prophetic voice and the light he helped to shine into some really dark places will be missed so much, as will his wit, charm and intelligence.  

Thank you Alan, and thank you to Lucy and the Wilson family for sharing him with us."


A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email