The Titus Trust has just announced that it is closing its evangelical Christian Iwerne camps for thirteen to 18-year-old pupils from the ‘top 30’ fee-paying English boarding schools from this summer.
The Iwerne camps were attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in the 1970s when he was a Cambridge University student and also when he was training for ordained ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham from 1989 to 1992.
The Church of England is currently conducting a lessons learned review into its handling of the revelations of the abuse committed by the serial Iwerne abuser John Smyth. In the 1970s and early 1980s he groomed victims at the Iwerne camps and engaged in savage beatings of boys in the garden shed at his home and during the Iwerne holidays. This review is led by Keith Makin, a former director of social services, and is due to report next year.
The Trust is also closing its feeder work for Iwerne – the Forres camps for eight to 13-year-old children from independent preparatory schools.
In a statement posted yesterday on its website it said:
‘Following an extensive year-long review, The Titus Trust has unveiled a reorganisation focused on extending and strengthening its ministry to independent schools into the future.
‘The review, informed by detailed feedback from school teachers and other stakeholders, has paved the way for an agile and more regionally focused approach to organising its popular summer activity holidays.
‘As part of the streamlining, the Iwerne & Forres camp group will close this summer, with responsibility for the associated boarding schools ministry to be shared out across the Trust.’
Titus Trust has already been attacked on Twitter over the move. Lee Furney, who describes himself as ‘posting to give comfort & courage to abuse survivors & expose deeds of darkness’, accused the Trust of ‘trying desperately to escape their abuse-laden past and survive the future by dividing into regional units’.
Kate Andreyev author of ‘Survivor. Raising awareness of abuse in the ReNew / Church Society constituency’, accused the Trust of ‘restructuring and rebranding instead of repentance’.
But Jonty Rhodes, a Presbyterian church planter in Leeds, said he was ‘very sad to hear Iwerne has closed. God was kind over the years; many, many owe their salvation to his work through that camp. And for what it’s worth the culture in the leaders room in 2020 is nothing like what it was even in 2000, let alone 1930 or 1970’.
Commenting on the changes, a spokesman for the Trust said: “We remain committed to supporting Christian teachers and pupils in their faith and witness in both the day and boarding independent schools of England and Wales.”