Radical 1990s Christian 'cult' which was praised by bishops but collapsed after sex scandal is now subject of police investigation - as officers arrest man and woman

Daily Mail, UK/August 25, 2022

By Matt Powell

An alternative Christian cult-like group founded in the 1980s, that featured bikini clad dancers and light shows, is now the centre of a police investigation following allegations of abuse dating back more than 25 years.

The Nine O'Clock Service was once seen as a successful experiment by the Church of England to reach a younger audience and was popular with former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.

However police have now confirmed that two people have been arrested in connection with the conduct of the controversial congregation.

Set up in the late 1980s, 'NOS' featured rave-like services, with loud music, dancers, flashing lights and abstract film loops projected onto large screens.

At its height, it attracted up to 600 parishioners, but the NOS services were shut down in 1995 after allegations were made of sexual abuse and exploitation.

Last year The Times reported that former members of the group approached the Church of England and dozens were planning to come forward with claims of abuse and exploitation.

Now a South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman confirmed that: 'A man and a woman, have been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences, alleged to have taken place in Sheffield between 1980 to 1995.

'They have since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.'

The Rt Rev Pete Wilcox, the current bishop of Sheffield, previously said: 'We can confirm that a group of survivors of the appalling conduct at the Nine O’clock Service in the diocese of Sheffield, which originally surfaced in the 1990s, have contacted the Church of England.

'Their concerns and harrowing testimonies are being taken very seriously, and there is of course a limit to what we can say while that process continues.

'Support is being offered, and the Church is working closely with the statutory authorities.

Richard Scorer, specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who represents some of the alleged victims, told The Times: 'It is imperative that all allegations arising from the Nine O'Clock Service are thoroughly investigated. My clients are aware of the police investigation and are co-operating fully with it.'

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