Statement on Jonathan Fletcher’s role within the Church Society

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Various questions of detail have been raised about Church Society and Jonathan Fletcher since this blogpost. So this is just to clarify our previous statement about this from 1st July 2019.

Like Church Society itself, the Church Society Trust has both members and trustees (also sometimes called directors). Jonathan Fletcher was previously a member of both, but not a trustee or director.

Directors of the Church Society Trust are the ones responsible for exercising the patronage duties of the Society. Those who are members of the Trust can assist the Directors if they have local knowledge or contacts relevant to a particular post. Occasionally they are able to deputise for Directors in certain circumstances, at meetings or presentations.

In the autumn of 2013, Dick Farr (Chairman of Church Society Trust) had a conversation with Jonathan Fletcher about the CST parish of St Mary’s Summerstown where Mr Fletcher was attending since his retirement, as the vicar of St Mary’s was also considering retirement. That same autumn, Mr Farr couldn’t make a meeting to do with the CST parish of St Peter’s Woking and it was decided at the CST Directors’ meeting that if Mark Burkill (another CST Director) couldn’t go either, they could ask Mr Fletcher as a member of Church Society Trust “to attend on our behalf.” He was then involved in that appointment. At the Church Society Trust meeting on 21st April 2015 we also noted that he had been appointed, but not by us, as Associate Minister at Summerstown, and would therefore look after the interregnum there. The last reference we have in our records to this ongoing situation is from a meeting Dick Farr had with the Archdeacon there in February 2017.

From a letter dated 1st April 2019 by Rod Thomas, William Taylor, Robin Weekes, and Vaughan Roberts which said that Jonathan Fletcher no longer had Permission to Officiate in the Church of England, it became clear to us that it was inappropriate for him to be in a position to possibly act on our behalf in such a situation again. Consequently, at the next Church Society Council meeting on 13th June 2019, Mr Fletcher ceased being a member of Church Society Trust (the members of which are simply appointed by the Council at this meeting annually).

There was very little detail in that 1st April 2019 letter. However, some further allegations about Mr Fletcher’s behaviour were released at the EMA conference on 27th June 2019 and in Church Times on 28th June 2019. We made people aware in this blogpost of 1st July 2019 (above) that we had removed him from Church Society Trust membership, and pointed people to various places they could go for help and support and further thinking about this.

As details continued to emerge, the Chairman of Church Society, Andrew Towner, then wrote to Jonathan Fletcher informing him that we were taking steps towards the removal of his CS membership in accordance with our Articles of Association, on 5th August. He wrote back, in a letter dated 7th August 2019, to resign from Church Society, with the effect that we no longer needed to convene a special meeting to hear and remove him.

I note there have been other questions about Mr Fletcher’s donations to Church Society from a charitable trust. These were his membership fee (paid by all members of the Society) and the price of attendance at our annual AGM (£10).

This evening we prayed again for all the victims of Jonathan Fletcher, and for the church in Wimbledon, in our weekly online prayer meeting. Our main concern, as in the original blogpost above, is for them.

Lee Gatiss
1st April 2021