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Pioneer network launches ministry practice review following Gerald Coates complaint

by Sophie Drew
Gerald Coates.jpg - Banner image
Premier Christianity

Pioneer - a network of evangelical churches across the UK - has launched a review following allegations of historic safeguarding issues within the group.

A complaint was made last month against the late Gerald Coates, the founder and former network leader, who died in 2022.

He led the network until 2009.

Pioneer has pledged to consider “past and present ministry practices” in the wake of the complaint, raised in July 2023.

The complaint is not believed to meet the threshold for a police referral, the trust has said.

The “broad and independent” review will be led by Christian Safeguarding Services, and will investigate “any failures or deficiencies in their past and present culture, policies, practices, and safeguarding arrangements”.

According to a statement released today: “The aim of the review includes (1) providing an independent and safe channel for anyone with safeguarding or cultural concerns connected to Pioneer Trust (or individuals acting on their behalf), (2) identifying and understanding the impact, scope and prevalence of harm caused, and (3) implementing recommended changes and improvements to practice.”

Pioneer is urging anyone with information to speak to the Christian Safeguarding Services.

The statement continues: “The trustees initiated the review when a complaint was raised in July 2023 about their late founder and former Network Leader, Gerald Coates, who led the network up until 2009.

“The current concerns relate to approaches to ministry and pastoral practice and do not meet the threshold for referral to statutory services (e.g., the police or social care). 

“There is no indication that any person engaging with Pioneer Trust is currently at risk, nor are the trustees aware of any concerns about the conduct of current staff or members of its leadership team.”

The review will run until mid-November, and the results published once the report is ready.

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