Jesus Army brought down by sexual and financial abuse allegations

Jesus Army brought down by sexual and financial abuse allegations May 30, 2019

A UK-based cult known as the Jesus Fellowship Church  – formerly the Jesus Army headquartered in a former art deco cinema in Northampton – announced this week that it was shutting down for good.

Photo: Leo Reynolds/Flickr/CC

It was the best news I heard all week as I had lost a good friend to this despicable outfit shortly after it was founded in 1969.

He was brainwashed into believing that his homosexuality could only be ‘”cured” if he handed over large amounts of cash to the Army, and preach against gay people on street corners. He abruptly terminated our five-year friendship, and his two-year involvement with the church ended when he committed suicide aged 24.

I later learned from his mother that he had handed all the money and property he inherited from his father to the church, which began calling itself the Jesus Army in 1987.

In announcing its closure, the Jesus Fellowship Church said it will cease to exist and the current national leadership team will be stepping down from their roles once the winding up of the central church has been completed.

The JFC is thought to have approximately 3,500 members in around 24 congregations in various cities and towns of the UK. It insists that its members remain celibate, and hand their belongings and earnings over to the church’s “common purse”.

All wealth “belongs to Jesus”, don’cha know.

Congregations that were part of the JFC will become fully independent. They will not be affiliated to a national church organisation and will be led by people who are appointed by their own members. Some have already appointed interim leadership teams, comprising women and men who are part of the congregation. These local congregations will be responsible for every aspect of their function including finance, staffing, and safeguarding.

According to the church’s statement:

In 2013 the JFC invited people to make disclosures about their experiences of the Church and many came forward with disclosures related to pastoral abuse and bullying as well as financial, physical and sexual abuse.

This information was passed to the Police, who launched Operation Lifeboat, examining non-recent abuse in the JFC. As a result, a number of criminal cases were successfully prosecuted through the courts.

The reputation of the Church has been badly damaged and the confidence of members of the Church was profoundly shaken. Alongside this, a declining membership and consequent slowdown in giving means that the national Church no longer has the resources to continue as it was.

The current national leadership team decided that they did not have the capacity or the desire to continue leading the JFC. Taking into account the scope of the problems they were facing, they did not believe anyone else could, or should, try and lead the organisation. The National Leadership Team therefore recommended to the members that the national JFC be dissolved – and that has now been approved by the members.

The statement added:

The NLT and the members of the JFC recognise that, over a sustained period of time, there have been faults and failures in the Church that have had a profound impact on many people’s lives.
We are deeply sorry for, and appalled by the abuse that has taken place within Jesus Fellowship Church and the New Creation Christian Community (NCCC) and offer our heartfelt sympathy and unreserved apology to all those affected. Children and vulnerable people were entitled to expect full protection from harm. We acknowledge the pain many of those people continue to feel. As things have become clearer to us, we are grieved and deeply troubled.

The statement concluded:

We have initiated the development of a listening and redress scheme which will continue to be taken forwards by the Jesus Fellowship Community Trust.
While the Trustees have a legal obligation to provide for the welfare of current members of the Community Trust, they want to provide help and compensation for those who suffered abuse or poor treatment in the past. They are seeking to provide resources to help former and current members towards closure from the mistakes and painful experiences of the past.

A working party – including victims and their representatives – is leading the development of this redress scheme. While we cannot undo the harm done, we hope that this can be of some help to those who feel they can engage with the scheme.

We are committed to working with the Police and Social Services to ensure that all allegations of abuse that come to our attention are dealt with appropriately and encourage anyone with concerns to report them.

Anyone with safeguarding issues or concerns, whether non-recent or current, should report them to the Jesus Fellowship Safeguarding Department (safeguarding@jesus.org.uk)
If you do not feel comfortable approaching someone from the Jesus Fellowship Church then we encourage you to contact the Police directly or the Safeguarding Helpline run by a support organisation independent of the Church and the Community Trust.

My one regret is that, while the main body has gone out of business, toxic fragments of it will continue to exist.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Broga

    My regret, to the extent that I give a toss about them at all, is that those who were responsible for the robbery and death of people like Barry’s friend are not prosecuted. Under the aegis of religion they shut up shop and bugger off. A typical ploy and widely used.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Corporations have golden parachutes. Theists have holy parachutes.

    Im inclined to think this is a “bankruptcy” protection of assets. What church assets? What church?
    Like catholic abortion agency deciding to pack up instead of working with LGBTQ clients.

    And then they’ll “incorporate” under a different name and do the same thing.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Jesus Fellowship Church

    JFC stood for something else, the last I heard.

  • CoastalMaineBird

    The JFC is thought to have approximately 3,500 members in around 24 congregations in various cities and towns of the UK.

    So… one church dies and 24 new ones arise, is that it?

  • WallofSleep

    I was going to make that point, but you beat me to it by 2 hours.

  • Anri

    So if everyone’s wealth and everyone’s bodies actually belong to Jesus, was he the one doing the larceny and abuse?
    ‘Cause this almost makes it sound like the people saying those things didn’t actually believe them.

    Remember, folks, Christianity makes you a better person – can’t be moral without god, after all.
    …right?

  • rubaxter

    Yeah, you really can trust the ‘people’ who used trust to betray the basic human dignity of the abused.

    Maybe the board/coven has changed members, that doesn’t assure a just solution nor does it recover the money basically stolen by those responsible, through similar ‘legal fictions’ that Conrad Black used to loot his victims.

    Mebbe the Queen will pardon those crooks like Duh-Nald pardoned Black?

  • rubaxter

    Even William Schwenck Gilbert thought the Bidness ‘Flowers of Progress’ were crooks.

    “If you come to grief and creditors are craving.
    (For nothing that is planned by mortal head
    Is certain in this Vale of Sorrow saving
    That one’s Liability is Limited)

    Do you suppose that signifies perdition?
    If so you’re but a monetary dunce

    You merely file a Winding-Up Petition,
    And start another Company at once!

    Though a Rothschild you may be
    In your own capacity,
    As a Company you’ve come to utter sorrow

    But the Liquidators say,
    “Never mind – you needn’t pay,”

    So you start another Company tomorrow!”

  • Arthur F. Meincke

    Good Riddance!

  • Bob Pattinson

    I pray (sic!) for day when all ‘Houses of God” close their doors. The world will be a better place.

  • David Cromie

    Grifters never really go away.

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    That’s the head of this snake chopped of but will others arise to replace it? The members are still around and I expect they will still believe the same stupidity as before so I imagine that these individual congregations will still preach the same and may join together in the future and we will have jesus army no 2. When I lived in Kettering there was a house they owned near me I used to stager past it on occasion on my way home from a pub they had a transit van parked outside emblazoned with their logo.