THE Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Anthony Boateng, has been suspended, while both he and the President, the Revd Graham Thompson, are being investigated over their conduct.
The investigations into two of the most senior figures in the Methodist Church was confirmed by the Secretary of the Conference, the Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, in a statement on Wednesday. Dr Hustler was responding to a story about the suspension published in The Times that morning.
He said: “As the article indicated, the concerns are different in each case, and are being investigated; the Vice-President is currently suspended, but I would stress that suspension is a neutral act and is in place only to enable investigations to be completed. It would be inappropriate to comment any further on the details of these matters; we now need space and confidentiality to address the concerns as swiftly as possible.”
The Times reported that Mr Boateng was being investigated over his behaviour. He denies any wrongdoing, the paper says, and is taking legal action against what he described as an “astonishing” move by the Church. Mr Thompson was facing a separate investigation, reportedly related to his management and the handling of allegations made within the Church.
Dr Hustler asked for “prayers for everyone in these difficult situations at this time. . . And, as I am all too aware, frankly, that whatever I say will be inadequate for some and might even appear insensitive to others, can I ask mutual forbearance and, if you feel hurt, forgiveness and understanding, as we endeavour to speak with grace and care when it is right to speak, and to be silent when no words will do?”
Earlier this year, an internal safeguarding review of the Church was leaked to The Times, in which the reviewer describes a “misogynistic and toxic” attitude towards women in the Church, with reports of inappropriate touching, and lewd remarks and bullying, as well as a male-dominated leadership.
The report, by the acting chair of the Church of England’s Independent Safeguarding Board, Meg Munn, was not intended for publication, although a spokesperson for the Methodist Church confirmed that it was commissioned, and that it recognised that “there are reported incidents of sexism and misogyny within our Church, and properly listening and responding to those who have been abused still needs to improve.”