Updates at Trinity Church Brentwood

The final denouement at Trinity is yet to take place but the sense of drama and activity at the church continues apace. Since the revelation of the historical allegation of rape which was reported on this blog, the church has put out a number of statements. One contained the closest thing to an apology that the church has ever published but there was little sense of the incongruity of the words after six years of secrecy, forgetfulness and a seeming total unwillingness to unpack the events of the past. The latest attempt to stave off the wall of criticisms and recollections of the appalling events of the Reid era was the request to send in messages of support for the leader Peter Linnecar. The invitation was extended only to current members, with the implication that comments of former members would be ignored. In the event the church published results of the opinions of members and ex-members alike. It showed predictably that Peter L still has a lot of support from his congregation, many of whom are related to him by blood or through inter-marriage. The statements were slightly tempered by the suggestion that the church trustees was minded to appoint a new assistant pastor from outside the church. Such a person, it was suggested, might help the church to deal with the past. The tone of the messages suggest that the trustees may be being pulled in two directions. One group actually wants to deal with the past while another is in strong defensive mode with and for their pastor. A future of honesty and openness for the latter group is just too much to face.

Meanwhile the blog continues to recount some pretty awful stories by ex-members. None of them cross that line into illegality but they make painful reading all the same. A fourteen year old was expelled from the school with no notice after some apparently harmless behaviour and it was suggested that this action was taken by Peter Linnecar as a way of getting back at the parents who were challenging the church in some way. Another ex-pupil recalled being humiliated and lambasted for his ‘sins’ in front of the whole school assembly. What made his account poignant was his thought that this was a Christian thing to do in making his humiliation so public. Clearly there are numerous other stories that do not make the blog but there seems general agreement that the school was the scene for some foul power games against the parent of the children there. Humiliate the children so that parents fall into line.

The latest piece of drama is that Peter and Carolyn Linnecar have flown to the States. It is suggested that they have gone off to consult George Kovoor, now in America. George was formerly Principal of Trinity College Bristol and was reputed to have helped the congregation recover from the Michael Reid era. One blog comment however has suggested that he failed lamentably to challenge the church when particular allegations of misconduct were raised two years ago. George was handed an open letter asking him to question Peter and other officials, when he came to preach, about an extensive correspondence sent to the church over misconduct at the school. There was a suggestion that the entire batch of letters was shredded. His demeanour on that occasion suggested that his task was not to challenge anything in any way but simply to enjoy the church’s lavish hospitality. While George may have helped the church pick itself up after the departure of Michael Reid, there is absolutely no evidence that he has ever challenged it in the six years since then. For a man of wide experience of ministry, it is curious not to see evidence that he has offered any guidance or advice of a constructive kind since then.

Peter and Carolyn return from the States today (Friday) and there is some expectation, once again, that important announcements will take place this w/e. Will Peter continue as chief pastor or will he succumb to the pressure of the continuing revelation of the appalling events of the past? Meanwhile Nigel Davies, the blogmaster, has been invited to a meeting with the Trinity trustees at 7.30 am on Saturday December 6th for 30 minutes. No doubt that will be an important and interesting encounter. We wait to see.

About Stephen Parsons

Stephen is a retired Anglican priest living at present in Northumberland. He has taken a special interest in the issues around health and healing in the Church but also when the Church is a place of harm and abuse. He has published books on both these issues and is at present particularly interested in understanding the psychological aspects of leadership and follower-ship in the Church. He is always interested in making contact with others who are concerned with these issues.

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