The former Church of England vicar in Chester Diocese recently banned from ministry for conduct unbecoming was chairman of an influential network of conservative evangelical churches in the North West of England.

Reporting in June on the clergy disciplinary action against Rev Tim Hanson, The Chester Standard quoted a spokesman for Chester Diocese: 

‘Tim Hanson resigned from his position as vicar of Christ Church, Wharton, in July 2022. Following an internal investigation by the Diocese of Chester, he admitted to conduct unbecoming to the office and work of the clergy, and was subsequently prohibited from ministry for a period of five and a half years. It’s important to note that Mr Hanson was not prohibited from ministry for any safeguarding reason.’

In July 2022, Hanson also resigned as chairman of the inter-denominational North West Gospel Partnership (NWGP).  Its region spans Cheshire, Merseyside, and Lancashire, including the university cities of Manchester and Liverpool.

Registered with the Charity Commission, the NWGP, which reported an income of £259,000 for the year to end-August 2021, states its activities as:

‘Delivery of a range of affordable of bible training courses in NW, including day and evening ministry course and specific training courses to support evangelical churches in NW including youth and music; the employment of a Director of Training; provision of an annual conference; publication of a magazine to encourage evangelical Christians throughout the region.’

Its most recent director of training is a CofE minister, Rev Mark Pickles, who became vicar of St Andrew’s Cheadle Hulme in Chester Diocese last year. He is a former director of Anglican ministry training at Oak Hill Theological College in north London.

In the Summer 2021 issue of the NWGP’s magazine, Partnership, Hanson wrote: ‘It really is easy to get the bible to say anything you want it to say – we need to work hard and be careful…When the preacher doesn’t work hard it’s so easy to misunderstand and to miss out. The people of God need us to take this so seriously.’

The NWGP is one of a number of gospel partnerships which formed after the former Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, galvanised conservative evangelicals into more collaborative regional action on church planting and Bible training courses during his tour of the UK in 2003

Over the past 20 years, other conservative evangelical regional partnerships have formed in Yorkshire, the South West of England, the Midlands, London and the South East.

Hanson became chairman of the NWGP’s trustees in 2018. His predecessor was the late Rev Justin Mote (1960-2022), who was the partnership’s first director. He was an organiser of the ReNew Conference of Anglican conservative evangelicals in the UK, which launched in 2013. In his tribute to Mote last year, ReNew chairman, Rev William Taylor, Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate in the City of London, wrote:

‘Justin’s contribution both to the Regional Gospel Partnerships and to ReNew was foundational and without Justin neither of these two movements would be what they are today. His directness was legendary but always loving.

‘His input in the lives and ministries of multiple men and women he served was immense. He was a dear friend to many and we will miss him enormously. Justin died from liver failure after a prolonged period of declining health. He had battled for years with deep wounds from his past that had left lasting damage. He was one of the bravest men that I have had the privilege to serve alongside.’

Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in the UK.