Sarah Molyneux-Hetherington

Title: Spiritual Abuse and Fresh Expressions in the Church of England: An Exploration of Lived Experience.

In this project, I seek to understand the experience of spiritual abuse within fresh expressions of church from the perspective of survivors, through the use of photo-elicitation and semi-structured interviews. I am primarily interested in the following questions:

  • How does spiritual abuse manifest within a fresh expression i.e., How does it look? How is it felt?
  • In what ways do the spiritual practices, behaviours, and theological convictions typical within the ecclesial community of a fresh expression impact the experience of spiritual abuse?

This project brings the voices of survivors into conversation with the theoretical and theological underpinnings of the fresh expression movement in order to answer the above questions. It offers a critical reflection on current fresh expression ecclesiology and methodology. As well as helping practitioners and those who support fresh expressions to recognise abuse sooner and respond more constructively. With the ultimate hope that this work contributes to making our churches safer places to be.

Supervisors: Dr Julian Gotobed and Prof. Lisa Oakley (University of Chester)