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'Unreserved apology' given to all those harmed by global church network leader

by Marcus Jones
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The elders of the Crowded House Church in Sheffield have apologised over the behaviour of former leader Steve Timmis.

They've responded to an independent inquiry which has found "evidence of a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour" by the former leader of the Acts 29 church network.

His behaviour led to members of his church experiencing significant emotional and psychological harm, according to the report by Christian safeguarding charity thirtyone:eight.

Action was taken after the media published accusations of bullying at the church.

Timmis stood down at the time of the accusations and was replaced as leader of the Acts 29 church network.

Leaders at the Crowded House ordered a Learning Review to examine the actions, decisions, leadership culture and ministry activities to help them understand what had happened and ensure a healthy church culture for the future.

Upon the release of the inquiry's discoveries, those leaders said they were "grieved by its findings".

In a statement they said: "The current elders at The Crowded House fully and wholeheartedly accept the conclusions of the Learning Review conducted by thirtyone:eight and published on 29th October 2020.

"From the Review, there is evidence of a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour in the name of our Christian vision and ministry, and evidence that in some instances people have experienced significant emotional and psychological harm. 

"For too many people their experience was that their concerns were not adequately engaged with, our leadership was not properly accountable, our governance was weak, and our pastoral care insensitive.

"We wish to make a full and unreserved apology to all those who have been harmed."

Since his resignation, Timmis has not responded to any of the allegations and, although invited, did not take part in the Learning Review.

He'd previously admitted that he was "a sinner saved by grace," and claimed "neither infallibility nor impeccability." 

"I am, though, more than ready for anyone to approach me and the church elders here with specific concerns. They can be assured of a careful listening," he had added.

The Crowded House says it's now committed to working on all the recommendations of the inquiry with its congregation.

These include addressing safeguarding polices, looking at the accountability of leaders and also not pressuring people into forgiveness.

Leaders say they have reached out to those who've been hurt but are aware there may be others and they are keen to connect with them.

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