Letter to the editor: Safeguarding concerns with St Helen’s

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Dear Sir,

The press release  (AI, 18/12/20) from St Helen’s Bishopsgate in the City of London announcing a ‘broken partnership’ with the Church of England’s House of Bishops includes a statement from a Christian woman who is same-sex-attracted and celibate. Very unfortunately, the statement suggests that this woman may be attracted to under-age girls:

‘Tracey, a member of St Helen’s who knew she was gay when she was 12, lived an active gay lifestyle in her twenties until she became a Christian a few years ago. She says, “Now that I’m a Christian it doesn’t mean that I have become straight. I’ve always been attracted to girls”.’

If she were attracted to under-age girls, clearly St Helen’s should not have included this statement in its press release. But if, as seems more likely, this is a misstatement about the nature of her sexual orientation, then she is not responsible for it. The organisation issuing the press release is responsible. If this release were written by a fee-charging public relations agency, the incompetence of this outfit would be beyond my ability to describe.

Ironically, given the subject of the release, the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Dame Sarah Mullally, who is ultimately responsible for safeguarding in her diocese, should surely require an urgent meeting (presumably via Zoom or Skype in lockdown London) between the Rector of St Helen’s, the Rev William Taylor, and her diocesan safeguarding manager, Aileen Stamate.

Does not Mr Taylor, who is a licensed and therefore accountable minister in London Diocese, have a moral responsibility either publicly to withdraw the press release or to make clear that it is adult females whom the woman in his congregation is attracted to?  Given the seriousness of the situation in which this press release potentially puts the Christian woman concerned, surely fast rectifying action is required?

Yours faithfully.

Julian Mann

Evangelical Journalist,