Bishop Michael Reid sets up a new church

The Ilford Recorder, a local newspaper for the Ilford area of east London, reports today that

A CONTROVERSIAL bishop has set up a new church in Ilford and hopes to “break down barriers” in the community.

Bishop Michael Reid’s new church, What God Can Do Ministries, meets twice weekly …

This is the first I have heard of this – and the first link to it that Google Alerts has given me. But I’m not sure if it is in fact something very new. The events calendar at Michael Reid’s own website implies that these regular meetings at a sports centre have been going on since 9th May, but this could have been backdated unintentionally.

This is of course the same man who

stepped down from [his previous church] after admitting having an affair with a church member.

Although Bishop Reid does seem to be back with his wife Ruth, who is in fact named as the contact for these new meetings, he has shown no sign of repentance for his adulterous affair.

Should errant Christian leaders be restored?

While I am taking a break from my series on Authority, power and rights in the New Testament, my near neighbour (at least from a global perspective, but we have never met) Sam Norton has started a series on a related topic: Does the priest have to be pure? In this he talks about the Donatists, whom I discussed here nearly two years ago. Sam gives an excellent explanation of why they were wrong to teach that the ministry of a Christian leader is invalidated by their personal sin.

This doesn’t mean that the sins of Christian leaders should simply be ignored. Unrepentant sinners like Michael Reid certainly should not be allowed to continue in ministry. But it does mean that those who fall should be allowed to repent and be restored, the process which was at least starting with Todd Bentley (but I haven’t kept up with that story) – and which the Donatists did not allow with the original traditores in late Roman times.

But this argument against the Donatists has its limitations in that it is not really applicable when a Christian leader not only falls into sin but also teaches that that sin is in fact right. This, arguably, is what many of the practising homosexuals in Anglican and other churches are doing: they are not only sinning (at least according to traditional biblical standards) but also teaching that what they are doing is right. But the argument against Donatism doesn’t mean that these people should be accepted, because unlike the traditores they are unrepentant.

Indeed the same can be said corporately of The Episcopal Church, which has this week demonstrated its lack of repentance over the Gene Robinson affair, as well as its contempt for the Archbishop of Canterbury, by approving the consecration of another practising homosexual bishop. This is a direct challenge to the rest of the Anglican Communion, which will renew the tensions which have brought it close to falling apart. But this teaching in effect approved by TEC is also rife in the Church of England.

I am now looking forward to the continuation of Sam Norton’s series. He promises to answer the question “what do we do when the priest isn’t pure?” In a comment I challenged him also to consider what happens when the priest is not “holding fast to the truth of the faith”. I hope he also applies these principles to the current situation in the church and the Communion in which he is a priest.

PS: I will not allow any comments here concerning Todd Bentley, unless they include significant and verifiable new information about him.

More details on Michael Reid losing unfair dismissal claim

More details have now emerged about how Bishop Michael Reid lost his claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal, as I reported in brief on Monday. The new details are in an article just published online by the local newspaper the Brentwood Gazette. This is also the top article at the Gazette’s online front page, and is likely to be on the front page of tomorrow’s print edition.

The main new information in the Gazette article is what the tribunal chairman said:

Tribunal chairman Michael Haynes said as he threw out the claim: “His admitted adultery was entirely contrary to the ethos of the church.

“He was the leader of the respondents, a Bishop in their church and it is not unreasonable to expect such a person, and the figurehead of the organisation, to comply with the same high standards of conduct which he proposes for others.

“He has shown throughout the correspondence, and at the various hearings before us, no repentance for what he has done, which appears to be an entire contravention of what he purports to believe in.”

The chairman continued: “Such a breach of confidence by the most senior person is a most serious matter and a reasonable employer in those circumstances would consider that dismissal was an appropriate option.”

It is heartening to see this tribunal upholding the principle, under attack from the current UK government, that an employee of a church, at least one in a senior position, can be expected to conform to the “high standards of conduct” taught by that church.

The church’s lawyer said:

“My client took no pleasure in the situation but ended up having to take part in this litigation because Michael Reid refused to comply with a more conciliatory approach to dealing with these matters.”

Reid may now be regretting his refusal, because that “more conciliatory approach” included an offer of £500,000 in settlement of their claims, according to this 2008 article in the same newspaper. Now he and his wife will not see a penny of compensation.

It also seems that they will have to leave their luxury house, which is owned by the church and next to its main building. That will be a relief to the church, which will be able to get on with its own life without having Reid watching their every move from next door. The Reids could have bought a nice new home for the £500,000 they were offered, but now they will be homeless – although I doubt if they will be penniless.

At least they have not yet received “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23). I wonder if they will ultimately show enough repentance and humility to accept “the free gift of God … eternal life”.

Michael Reid loses unfair dismissal claim

The Daily Express reports that


This is of course a reference to Bishop Michael Reid, formerly of Peniel Church in Brentwood, near my home town of Chelmsford. See this post of mine for background, and this more recent one for an update.

For the moment the story seems to be only in the Express, but it confirms the latest update at this site. The Express is perhaps not the most reliable of newspapers, but I assume that at least the basic facts of its report are accurate. But there is tantalisingly little information in the article. These are the only parts which will be new to my readers here: Reid

has lost his claim for unfair dismissal after admitting to an affair with his choir mistress. …

Tribunal chairman Michael Haynes described the bishop as “forceful” and “abrasive” as he refused the claim saying his behaviour was utterly contrary to his church’s teachings.

I look forward to more details, including confirmation of the report that

reid has lost his employment tribunal claim ‘on all points’.

I will keep you, my readers, posted on this matter.

Update on Bishop Michael Reid

Most of my posts from 2008 have been forgotten. Perhaps that’s a good thing. But among the few which continue to attract attention, an average of four hits a day right through 2009 and 54 hits already this month, is my post on The fall of Bishop Michael Reid. Although this post and the events reported in it date from nearly two years ago, there is clearly continued interest in the story of Michael Reid and of Peniel Church in Brentwood. Indeed I have had e-mails specifically asking me to report further developments here.

This was in fact only the first of four previous posts here about Michael Reid. The most recent before this one reported, in September 2009, Bishop Michael Reid arrested on suspicion of rape. In other developments which I did not report here (see this site, not friendly to Reid, for further details), Michael Reid has opened a new ministry with a new website (not an endorsement), on which I found this wonderful piece of tautological prose:

The Ministries of Bishop Michael Reid includes all form of ministries streams that flow from the life of our ministry, What God Can Do Ministries.

Also, according to this local newspaper article from 2008, Michael Reid was offered £500,000 by Peniel Church in settlement of his claims against them, including wrongful dismissal, but rejected this offer and took the church to an employment tribunal. The tribunal hearing took place in December 2009, during which, according to the local newspaper, it was revealed that a second woman

claimed to have had a relationship of “many years” with Reid, which involved a “possible abuse of his position”.

Or was this actually a third woman? That is suggested by these summaries of court reports. It is not clear whether the rape allegations concern this same second or third woman. Reid had been expected in court to “answer bail” on these allegations on 6th February, but according to this site the hearing has been postponed for at least the third time, until 12th May.

I drafted this post last week intending to wait for publication of the report of the employment tribunal, according to that same site expected “early February” and (last week) “in the very near future”. But it is no longer “early February”, and so I shall give my readers now the benefit of what I have written so far, and follow this up with another post when the tribunal results are known.

One thing which is known already is that Reid’s wife Ruth’s “claim for unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination and breach of contract” has already been rejected, for procedural reasons, see also this summary. It seems unlikely that Reid’s own claim will do much better. I would think that the most he could expect to be awarded would be much less than the £500,000 he has been offered out of court. But we are still waiting for the result.

Bishop Michael Reid arrested on suspicion of rape

Last year I reported on the fall of Bishop Michael Reid. He had been the controversial pastor of Peniel Church in Brentwood, Essex – a highly controlling leader who ruled over his flock in a way which was a complete antithesis to how Jesus taught church leaders to behave. But Reid resigned when it was revealed that he had for eight years been having an affair with the music director of the church.

Since then, I understand that Peniel Church has been putting its house in order. But apparently Bishop Reid has not. It has been reported today, as the lead item in the Brentwood Gazette (sister newspaper to the Essex Chronicle which last week made its lead item the resignation of another church leader), that

THE founder and former leader of the Peniel Church, Bishop Michael Reid, has been arrested on suspicion of rape.

It is understood that the controversial Bishop, 66 – who split from the Peniel Church after admitting to adultery – was arrested in the early hours of Thursday August 27 following an allegation of rape.

I have no information beyond what is in this newspaper article.

Michael Reid and his bulldog

This may well come out as post number 500 on this blog. But it is not really my 500th post – in fact only the 448th published post. I don’t know why there is such a discrepancy. So I won’t mark this in any special way as I have in the past with such milestones.

My rather quickly written post on The fall of Bishop Michael Reid has unexpectedly proved to be one of my most popular, attracting 1365 hits so far and so putting it in third place behind Pope Benedict, Bible scholars, and the Antichrist (6420, almost all in three days) and Why is Easter so early this year? (2798). Many of the Michael Reid hits have come from Google searches. There is obviously a lot of interest, especially here in Essex, in what has happened to this long controversial and now disgraced pastor. But there is not much information available.

The Michael Reid Ministries website is still working under that name but is now just a synonym for the site of Reid’s former church, Peniel in Brentwood. There is now no mention, except in the page header, of Reid or his resignation. Even the Peniel College URL now links to this same page, but the Peniel Academy, Peniel TV and Michael Reid Publishing sites are unavailable. (The last four links were found in a Google cache.)

The Michael Reid Miseries site has not been updated recently. Among the few bloggers to report this story are Chris Lazenby of Midlands Bible College and Divinity School, Richard Bartholomew, and Simon Jones whose post which I mentioned before sparked a long and sometimes vitriolic comment thread. The most recent posts are those of Johli Baptist (John Race), part 1 and part 2.

The most informative site about the situation is the Reachout Trust forum. Most of the discussion is in one long thread, 29 pages, at Reachout Trust. This thread was closed on 1st May, because it was going off topic and allegations were being made about Reid which are, it is said, being investigated by the police. Of course it is right to avoid passing on potentially libellous allegations, but in some ways it is even worse to hint that some are being investigated without giving any details. It is reported that Reid is back in the UK, but also that there is a court order preventing him from returning to church property including his former home. There is some more recent news on this thread at the same site; see also this thread.

The boredom of the long Reachout Trust thread was broken by this charming story from former Peniel member Jacob:

Back when I was a humble student and first visiting Peniel, I remember on one of my first visits when I was just getting to know ‘his nibs’ :lol: (so I got to see his ‘nice’ side…. the bit the security guards need to be wary of). On one of my earliest visits he was in bed sick (at least I assume that’s what he was doing in bed… after recent revelations, who knows!!) :lol:

As I said, my only encounters with Reid at that point had been friendly, I was a visitor – and he didnt know much about me either at that stage. So I suggested to some of the other young people that I had been getting to know that we get him a get-well card, we happened to be in town, and while I was in the card shop in Brentwood high street, I spotted a soft toy – in fact, I think it was spotting the soft toy that inspired me to get it for him as a ‘get well’ present, with a card.

It was a bull dog, wearing a T shirt with the slogan ‘be reasonable, do it my way’. It was interesting the response of the other young people…. they obviously knew the ‘other side’ of Reid, and were a bit nervous about getting something so very cheeky – but I was quite a confident, witty chap back then (nothing’s changed as you can tell from my posts… I’m back to my old self…. Peniel tried to knock it out of me but it survived 19 years!).

So I bought it, and the present was delivered…. and we heard nothing back.

However years later, when I was at Testimony House for some reason, I got to peep into the hallowed bedroom – and was very gratified to see the toy there, complete with T shirt, occupying pride of place beside the bed! Obviously the great man like it…. who doesnt like a bit of a cheeky joke… especially when it’s true!

So for all his faults the man has a human humour-loving side.

Fast and pray, or pray fast?

My post about Bishop Michael Reid has attracted a lot of interest. Simon Jones’ post which I linked to has attracted even more, to judge by the number of comments.

Well down the comment thread on Simon’s post a discussion has started on fasting. The issue was raised by Dr Raj Patel, and the discussion continued by John, a preacher from here in Essex, who reports the following:

Reid taught that it was not right to fast because the Lord, the bridegroom, is now with us and we do not need to fast. He even stated at a meeting for pastors that “fasting is heathen.” This is clearly false teaching, especially in view of Acts 13:2-3.

Raj continues with

You are absolutely right, Reid has totally contradicted Scripture on the issue of fasting. Indeed, some might say say he has blasphemed on this point, as the New Testament tells us that Jesus taught his disciples to ‘pray and fast without ceasing.’ … It looks as if the ‘bishop’ thought he was so important and authoritatative that he could contradict the teaching of Christ himself !

Strange, these quoted words don’t appear in my New Testament. Can anyone tell me where they come from? It is not Reid but whoever first attributed these words to Jesus who “thought he [or she] was so important and authoritatative that he [or she] could contradict the teaching of Christ himself”. For when we look at what Jesus actually taught about fasting, it is by no means that his followers should fast. He did not condemn fasting, but, in Mark 2:19, laid down a general rule, which Reid faithfully taught, that they should not fast “because the Lord, the bridegroom, is now with us”. So, according to commenter John,

Reid also used to say that we should not fast and pray, but pray fast.

Excellent advice! Fasting may be helpful for some in certain circumstances, but in his teaching Jesus, without condemning fasting, repeatedly teaches on the importance of prayer. Not fast prayer in the sense of babbling words or getting it over quickly, but praying fast in the sense of being quick to turn to prayer when there is a need, and of holding fast to God in prayer.

I agree that Reid went too far in saying that “fasting is heathen.” This is indeed false teaching, as are large parts of what Reid taught. But he should be condemned for what is false, and for his adultery, and not for this teaching which is correct, and explodes a long held myth about fasting.

No doubt some of you my readers will want to point me to Matthew 17:21 and Mark 9:29 (see also 1 Corinthians 7:5) in KJV and NKJV, in which Jesus appears to commend prayer and fasting. But if you look for this teaching in almost any modern Bible translation except for NKJV, you will not find them. Matthew 17:21 is not in these translations at all, and there is no mention of fasting in Mark 9:29 or 1 Corinthians 7:5. In each of these cases the wording with “fasting” is found only in later manuscripts in the Alexandrian and Byzantine traditions; the scholars of the biblical text who produced the UBS 4th edition Greek New Testament judge that in each of these three cases “the text is certain”, referring to the version without “fasting”. It seems highly probable that the variants with “fasting” reflect the growing prominence of this practice in the 3rd and 4th centuries, and not the actual teaching of Jesus and the apostles. These readings found their way into KJV through the Byzantine manuscripts of the New Testament on which the “Textus Receptus” is based, but are now almost universally (except by “KJV-only” people) rejected as later additions.

Since Jesus is with his church, the bridegroom with his bride, I can agree with Reid, as reported by John, that as a general rule

Christians should be feasting and not fasting.

The fall of Bishop Michael Reid

Peniel Pentecostal Church in Brentwood, about 15 miles from my home, has been controversial here in Essex for several years. I have never been there myself. But I did know people at a church here in Chelmsford which perhaps 20 years ago closed down and effectively merged with Peniel, including a family which left that group and joined my own church. Among the controversies is the allegedly overbearing leadership style of its leader, until last week, Bishop Michael Reid.

But the latest controversy tops the lot, and made it into the national newspapers, at least The Daily Mail, as quoted by John Richardson, and The Sun. The story is also in the Church Times blog, despite being completely non-Anglican. For it seems that Michael Reid has fallen into the oldest trap for church leaders, adultery. If the reports are to be believed, he has for eight years been having an affair with the music director (I nearly said “worship director”, but I know what Doug would say to that!) at his church. Indeed he has admitted adultery, without specifying more details, and resigned from pastoral duties in his church.

Simon Jones, who was apparently hurt by involvement in a similar church, has blogged about this matter in a somewhat intemperate way, accusing Reid of hypocrisy. He also writes, accurately:

A quick Google will reveal some truly awful stories about Michael Reid and the way he has dealt with people who have questioned his leadership over the years.

My aim here is not at all to defend Reid or his church, but to put some balance and truth into this story.

First, the current issue is nothing at all to do with his ministry style or church leadership. That is anyway an internal matter for him and his church, at least unless it is clearly unbiblical or abusive. Not surprisingly people who didn’t like his leadership are not sorry about his fall, but any link between the issues is only speculative.

Second, although Dave Walker and Simon Jones use “scare quotes” around the title “bishop”, and Dave even calls him “self-styled”, in fact Michael Reid is entitled to be called a bishop. Simon quotes a letter from the International Communion of Charismatic Churches confirming that Reid was properly consecrated as a bishop:

His consecration to the office of the Bishop was conducted in Benin City, Nigeria by the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa. He for several years after served as the national presbyter for the ICCC and a member of the College of Bishops. However, since his resignation several years ago he has held no position within the organization and the organization has had neither involvement nor oversight in his ministry.

According to the ICCC’s own website their episcopate was recognised by Pope Paul VI in 1978:

the pope saw it as a gesture of genuine desire to identify with the historical church and he defended the actions of the three Pentecostals and called for McAlister and DuPlessis to be brought before him for commissioning as bishops of special recognition and rights thereby establishing them both as direct descendants of apostolic succession.

Robert McAlister consecrated Benson Idahosa, and Idahosa consecrated Reid. So Reid became a genuine bishop in the apostolic succession. And, although he left the ICCC about ten years ago, on the understanding of those who believe in the apostolic succession he remains a bishop for life. So there is no call for “scare quotes” or words like “self-styled”.

As John Richardon writes, we should not be crowing over the fall of a church leader that we didn’t like, but

what all of us should be thinking is, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

And , I suggest, we should be praying for Bishop Reid and his wife, and for the woman involved and her family; also for the church under its new pastor, including that it will turn away from the abuses for which Reid was allegedly responsible and follow God’s leading for it as a church.