THE Rt Revd Andy Lines, the GAFCON “Missionary Bishop for Europe” in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), has revealed that he has experienced “spiritual manipulation”.
Bishop Lines announced in January that he would be moving with his wife to Australia, in March, for three months, to “take a break to recover and regroup”. The reasons given included “very difficult personal matters”, although no details were given at the time.
A statement from Bishop Lines was posted last week on the website of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), over which Bishop Lines has episcopal oversight.
The statement says that Bishop Lines has decided to speak of his experience of manipulation “in light of recent reports in the media”. It does not specify which media reports, although the statement was made shortly after news emerged of allegations against the Revd Jonathan Fletcher, a former Minister of Emmanuel Proprietary Chapel, Ridgway, in Wimbledon (News, 28 June).
Bishop Lines has been a member of the congregation at Emmanuel for some years, although his statement does not specify by whom the spiritual manipulation was carried out.
In the statement, Bishop Lines says: “I have been coming to terms with elements of spiritual manipulation in my own life. It has been a very hard and painful process requiring months of professional counselling for me to come to terms with what I have experienced. It took considerable time before the light went on, and has required lots of support during three months in Australia.
“However, I now realise the nature of what was happening. I have come to realise that this can happen to strong as well as vulnerable people. I have become aware that the particular manipulation and control I have experienced has been experienced by a number of others.”
It continues: “Since September last year, I have not exercised formal episcopal duties as such. The authorities to whom I am accountable have carried out a thorough investigation and have cleared me to return to such duties. But it is apparent that such a return can only be gradual, both because of the need to recover from all that this ordeal has involved, and also to allow time to consult with those whom I am called to minister to.”
When contacted by the Church Times on Tuesday, Bishop Lines said that he did not intend, for the moment, to comment further.
Archbishop Foley Beach, Primate of ACNA, who chairs the GAFCON Primates’ Council, said: “The betrayal of trust by a mentor is a terrible wound, and when things like this take place in the Church it only increases the pain.
“Bishop Lines is a survivor who has shown the willingness to do the hard spiritual and emotional work of coming to grips with the actions of an abusive father-figure. He has my full support as he works to support other victims and cares for those churches leading the reformation of Anglicanism in Europe.”