Jesus Fellowship (Jesus Army)

The Jesus Army, also known as the Jesus Fellowship Church and the Bugbrooke Community, was founded in 1969 by Noel Stanton.  The Jesus Fellowship grew considerably and by 2007 there were approximately 3,500 members in various towns and cities across the UK.

In the early years a residential Christian community was founded and by 1979 several large houses were purchased by the Jesus Fellowship and the community grew with up to 60 people living in each community house.

In the last 20 years there have been many allegations that leaders and members of the Jesus Army committed abuse of children and vulnerable leaders. Ten people from the Church have been convicted of sex offences.

Who is Noel Stanton?

In 1957, Noel Stanton became a Pastor of a Baptist Church in Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire. Almost twenty years later, the church slowly transitioned into an international community which became the Jesus Army. Stanton remained the Jesus Army’s leader until 2009 when he then named Mick Haines as his successor. Allegations about Noel Stanton have been made spanning across the years of 1957-2009.

Details of Convicted Members/Leaders

In December 2015 Douglas Whitlock was found guilty of sexual assault of a female under 14 and received only a police caution.

In June 2016 Clifford Brett was jailed for 5 years for sexually abusing two boys.  He was also placed on the Sex Offender’s Register for life and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.  Brett worked as the school caretaker and crossing patrol officer.  Throughout the 1990s Brett moved between Jesus Army’s network of properties in Preston and Northampton.  Brett was cleared of 13 charges but convicted of three counts of indecency and indecent assault against two boys.

In 2017 Nigel Perkins pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault and two counts of gross indecency with a child under the age of 14.  His offences were carried out six years in the 1980s and his victims were aged between 10 and 13.  He was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

In February 2017 Paul Chalmers was convicted of one count of indecent assault against a male under 14.  He was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for 18 months.

In February 2018 Mike Meminsey was convicted of indecently assaulting a male.  He was sentenced to 24 months in prison, suspended for 2 years.

In April 2018, Alan Carter, was convicted of one count of buggery and 7 counts of indecent assault of a male under 16.  He was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

In July 2017 Karl Skinner was convicted of 3 counts of indecent assault of a male under 14.  He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years. 

Investigations

After Stanton’s death in 2009, the Jesus Fellowship invited people to make disclosures about their experiences of the organisations.  This information was passed to the Police who launched ‘Operation Lifeboat’.  By August 2021, the Jesus Fellowship had received a total of 291 allegations of harm and abuse.  These allegations were made against 125 individuals and the incidents reported occurred between 1970s and 2019.

Claims have come to light of rape, sexual abuse, bullying, brainwashing, forced labour, financial bondage and beatings of young men by groups of men.

Redress

In 2019 the Jesus Fellowship Church Trust apologised to anyone “who experienced harm in the past”.

Following the Jesus Fellowship’s acknowledgment that abuse took place, they are setting up the Jesus Fellowship Redress Scheme.  The Redress Scheme is not yet open for applications but it is expected to be launched later this year.  For details of the draft Scheme click here.

Our lawyers have a great deal of experience of dealing with redress schemes having acted for over 300 survivors in the Lambeth Council Redress Scheme and are now assisting a number of clients in making their application to the Scottish Redress Scheme.  As such, as soon as the Scheme is open, our experienced lawyers would be happy to discuss your case with you and assist you in making an application.

Further details of the Jesus Fellowship Redress Scheme will be published on our website as soon as they are released.