An interview in 2017 with the former chairman of the Proclamation Trust, an influential UK conservative evangelical training group, shows how pivotal the serial church abuser, Rev Jonathan Fletcher, was in setting up the PT in the 1980s. The PT makes no mention  of co-founder Fletcher on its website.  

The interview with the celebrated expository preacher, Prebendary Dick Lucas, former Church of England Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate in the City of London, on the US-based Leadership Resources International site is accessible via a web cache. Leadership Resources has since changed its name  to Word Partners.

Fletcher was Lucas’s curate at St Helen’s before becoming vicar of Emmanuel Wimbledon in south-west London in 1982. Leadership Resources asked Lucas: ‘At some point along the way you began to think beyond the walls of the church. You saw the need for the word of God to be at the center of the life of the church. Can you tell us a little about the development of Proclamation Trust?’

Lucas replied: ‘Yes. The trouble is that I tend to get too much credit. So many other people were involved. Jonathan Fletcher, I always say, is one of the founders of P.T. Jonathan was on our staff for three or four years. He went to Wimbledon as the pastor there. He has a terrific number of friends. He’s one of these people who knows so many other people and is a great encourager. He ran a conference for two nights at Fairmont {seemingly a misnomer for Fairmile Court in Surrey}. We had a conference center by then due to the generosity of one of our businessmen. Jonathan ran a conference for two or three nights for about twenty men who were in charge of churches and invited me to come to lead it. This is how P.T. started. God does things.’

The PT ‘s ‘How it all began’ section on its website says: ‘In the summer of 1981, 40 men engaged in a preaching ministry gathered at a conference centre (Fairmile Court) in Surrey for a conference on ‘expository preaching’. Dick Lucas, then Rector of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate held this conference with the aim of examining and learning what particular Bible texts actually say.’

In December last year, Surviving Church reported that in March 2017, soon after Southwark Diocese in south London had removed Fletcher’s Permission to Officiate, 36 ministers met with Fletcher for a residential conference in Sussex. The list of attendees, disclosed to Surviving Church, included three serving CofE Bishops. Dick Lucas was reportedly a day visitor. 

The safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight, is due imminently to publish its report, commissioned by Emmanuel Wimbledon, into Fletcher’s abuses. 

In an announcement last month, the charity said: ‘We shall be issuing an update in early March with the expected publication date and where interested parties may be able to view the report. We appreciate that this has been a long wait for many, particularly victims, survivors and other participants in the review.

‘We can also confirm that the review has been of interest to the Metropolitan Police and discussions with them are ongoing in relation to this. Therefore the exact date for publication will to some degree be determined by the outcome of these discussions.

‘All affected participants in the review have been contacted to inform them of the interest from the Metropolitan Police in advance of this public statement. We remain thankful to all for their patience and assistance with the process so far.’

Julian Mann is an evangelical journalist based in the UK and author of Christians in the Community of the Dome