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Two most senior Methodist leaders facing investigation

by Marcus Jones
Graham Thompson Anthony Boateng thumb.jpg - Banner image
Methodist Church

The president and vice-president of the Methodist Conference are facing separate investigations over their handling of safeguarding allegations within the Church.

While little detail has been revealed about the action against Rev Graham Thompson and Anthony Boateng, Premier has been told that Boateng has been suspended, just a week before he and Thompson are due to hand over duties to their successors.

In a statement to Premier, a spokesperson for the Church said: "The Methodist Church takes all concerns it receives seriously and can confirm that there are separate investigations about the President and Vice President.

"We are now following our internal processes and it would be inappropriate to comment while these are taking place. We have kept the Charity Commission informed."

The development comes just weeks after details from an internal report were leaked suggesting there is a "misogynistic and toxic" culture within the Church regarding its treatment of women.

The report, written by former MP Meg Munn, also hit out at the Church's handling of safeguarding concerns.

"One of the most important ways in which the Methodist Church can ensure victims’ and survivors’ accounts can be better heard is to improve the culture of the Church," she wrote. "The victims and survivors I spoke with don’t have confidence in the Church. It is not seen as a safe place."

The Methodist Conference, the Church's governing body, is due to meet in Birmingham next week, where a new president and vice president will be appointed.

Responding to the investigations, secretary of the Conference, Rev Dr Jonathan Hustler encouraged Methodists to be praying over the situation.

In a statement, he said: "Can I ask for your prayers for everyone in these difficult situations at this time - for those who feel hurt by actions or inactions on the part of the Church; for those who have raised concerns; for Anthony, Graham and those close to them; for all charged with administering our processes; for the Conference (and for Gill and Kerry, President- and Vice-President-designate) as we prepare to meet next week in these circumstances?

"And, as I am all too aware, frankly, that whatever I say will be inadequate for some and might even appear insensitive to others, can I ask mutual forbearance and, if you feel hurt, forgiveness and understanding, as we endeavour to speak with grace and care when it is right to speak and to be silent when no words will do?"

He also stated that the suspension of Boateng was a 'neutral act' only in place to enable investigations to be completed.

Speaking to the Times, Boateng said he was "astonished" by the claims.

“I have been suspended from my role without any details of the allegations against me and I have had no opportunity to be heard. I am concerned that the Methodist Church is not following proper process. I deny any wrongdoing. I am taking legal advice and will be appealing against the decision to suspend me,” he said.

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