THE leader of the Evangelical network New Wine, the Revd Mark Bailey, has resigned, and has “stepped back” from his parochial ministry in Cheltenham, as a result of an investigation under the Clergy Discipline Measure.
Mr Bailey, Team Rector of Holy Trinity and St Paul, Cheltenham, requested a meeting last week with the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek.
After the meeting, Bishop Treweek said in a statement: “While I can’t go into any detail, I can tell you that this relates to a matter now being considered under the Clergy Discipline Measure. This is not a matter involving the police or other statutory agencies. Further information will be made available at the appropriate time.”
Mr Bailey had been head of the New Wine network since 2014. In a statement on the New Wine website, the trustees said that it was with the “greatest sadness and regret” they had accepted his resignation.
“Please pray for Mark and Karen, their family and friends and for everyone at Trinity, Cheltenham, as they cope with the shock and pain of this. The Trustees recognise and share the deep distress that this news will cause. They are profoundly conscious of their need for God’s guidance and wisdom in the weeks ahead and encourage all friends of New Wine to pray for them, for New Wine itself and for all those personally involved.”
A former leader of New Wine, the Revd John Coles, has been appointed interim chairman of the network’s board.
Mr Bailey has also removed himself from his social media accounts, telling followers on Twitter that he was “taking a break”, and it was “time to put on my own oxygen mask”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is to speak at the New Wine leadership conference in Harrogate next month.
Lords debate Measure. In a debate in the House of Lords last week on the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure, which gives bishops new powers to suspend clergy before an arrest is made on the basis of police information, peers expressed concerns about the damage that could be done to clergy as a result of “unfounded allegations”.
Lord Cormack referred to the case of the former Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, who stepped down while a police investigation was under way. “He was a greatly respected bishop, but suddenly, in the glare of publicity, had to stand down as bishop for a period. He was not able to make his farewell because his retirement had already been announced. Although he was completely exonerated by police and church, it was a long, cumbersome, and distressing process. I hope lessons were learnt within the Church from that.”
The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, said that lessons had been learned from that process which had not yet been shared with Bishop Perham, and so could not yet be shared more publicly. He also said that lessons had been learned from the Bishop George Bell case, and spoke of a failure in the “communications process”.
“I am quite happy to go on the record as saying that one of the lessons learnt in this particular case is that our failing to acknowledge the immensity of the work that Bishop George Bell had done was a failure in our communications process. We should have done it in a different manner,” he said.