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Methodist LBGT meetings paused during safeguarding investigation

07 June 2024

The homepage of the Inclusive Gathering Birmingham (IGB) website

The homepage of the Inclusive Gathering Birmingham (IGB) website

A FLAGSHIP Methodist gathering in Birmingham which caters specifically to the LGBTQ+ community has been suspended since late April because of a safeguarding investigation.

Some of those whose initial complaints triggered the investigation have said that they were shut out of the church community after criticising the safeguarding process.

Inclusive Gathering Birmingham (IGB) runs as a pioneer church under the auspices of the Birmingham Methodist District. Its regular Sunday meetings were suspended after a verbal altercation between church officials and complainants at a Sunday gathering on 28 April.

The safeguarding matter at issue was complaints by IGB members (three of whom have spoken to the Church Times) of inappropriate touching by an individual, who has since been removed from the core leadership team. One complainant was told that the individual was “just a hugger”.

At the 28 April gathering, the Birmingham District chair, the Revd Novette Headley, and the district mission adviser, Adam Sanders, giving a presentation, said that “the complainants have been made aware that the investigations have been completed.”

One of the complainants, who has asked not to be named, said at the gathering that he had not been interviewed, and that, when he continued to speak about the complaints, Mr Sanders threatened to call the police.

It was later announced that no more gatherings would be held for two weeks, but this period was subsequently extended. Members of IGB’s broadcast-only WhatsApp group were told: “We have not been meeting to allow for space for safeguarding processes to be undertaken. We are reviewing the decision on whether to re-open weekly, but we are committed to re-opening and reconnecting as soon as we can continue building a safe and healing space.”

At least two of the complainants have been removed from the WhatsApp group.

On Tuesday, the Deputy President of Birmingham District, the Revd Phil Warrey, said: The safeguarding investigation concerning IGB has now finished, and concluded that there is no further safeguarding risk arising from the original complaints. Associated matters that came out in the investigation have been referred back to ourselves in the District team, and these issues are currently being dealt with.

“Inclusive Gathering Birmingham has been on pause whilst the safeguarding investigation concluded and following a demonstration at one of the services in late April. The group won’t meet until we can determine that the space is a safe one for all who attend, and would like that to happen as soon as possible, but we must do this in a timely manner.”

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