Church plea for fugitive priest to surrender to police

The Diocese of Guildford, together with the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, has expressed concern for the well-being of the Rev’d Simon Reynolds, who absconded from court on 23 July. ​We ask people to keep Simon and his family in their prayers and urge Simon to get in touch with the police as soon as possible to ​allow justice to take its course.


Joint statement from the diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales and the Diocese of Guildford  –


July 23, 2015


Following the conviction of Simon Reynolds on four counts of theft from the Church of England and the Parochial Church Council of All Saint’s Church in Darton, Barnsley, the Archdeacon of Pontefract, the Ven. Peter Townley, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by this crime.


“We deeply regret any further pain caused to those families who paid fees to Simon for funerals and our hope is that this conviction now affords some peace.


“The consequences of Simon’s actions have been felt far and wide, not least by parishioners here in Darton but also in Farnham, Surrey, to where he moved in March 2013.


“It is of course a matter of deep disappointment when a member of clergy acts in anything other than an exemplary manner.


“Simon, as with all other members of clergy, received training and advice on how to handle all fees paid to him directly and the court has found that he knowingly flouted this advice and kept the money for himself.


“Since January 2013 the Church of England has standardised the collection of both funeral and wedding fees which are now due to the relevant Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) and to the Parochial Church Council (PCC) and not left for the incumbent to declare at the end of each year.


“Here in the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales we have carefully reviewed our procedures and will continue to ensure that measures are in place so that all members of clergy are fully aware of their responsibilities and we can minimise the possibility of anything like this happening again.


“I would also like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the sterling work of the South Yorkshire Police and particularly for their painstaking attention to detail and for all their help and support to the Parish and Diocese in these upsetting times.”


The Archdeacon of Surrey, the Ven Stuart Beake, has helped to find support for Reynolds’ parish of St Andrew’s Church since he was suspended in November 2013. He said: “I would like to pay tribute to the churchwardens at St Andrew’s Church who have led the parish through the vacancy before Simon’s arrival and then since his suspension just months later. I would also like to thank the many clergy who have helped worship to continue at St Andrew’s through this time.


“While none of the offences took place in Farnham, the ramifications have certainly been felt and yet St Andrew’s has continued to serve its community offering a range of groups, services, events and music in the centre of town.

“Now that a verdict has been reached in the case, the parish can begin to plan for the future but we will have to await details of sentencing before determining the appropriate disciplinary outcome from the process Simon will face as a result of the conviction. Simon remains suspended, pending sentencing.”

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