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Jesus Fellowship pledges that Northamptonshire cemetery will be preserved throughout plan to sell off assets

The families of loved ones buried at the cemetery will be able to visit if and when the land is sold off

Website: Northampton Chronicle and Echo
Date: 11/07/2020
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Northamptonshire-based religious sect The Jesus Fellowship has pledged that a cemetery where hundreds of members are buried will be maintained while the church sells off its assets in the years to come.

Last year, the organisation previously known as the Jesus Army disbanded after an investigation revealed allegations of historic abuse against former members of the church.

However, the Fellowship has now clarified what will become of the Cornhill Cemetery near its base of operations on Furnace Lane, Nether Heyford, now that the sect is in the process of disposing of its land and assets.

It comes after a Wiltshire man, Mike White, raised concerns with the Chronicle & Echo that they didn't know if they would be able visit his brother Pete, who was a member of the Army for 50 years and is buried at Cornhill.

Mike said: "It's not my intention to have Pete dug up. He wanted to be buried there and he'd want to stay there, so I will make sure that he does stay there."

Now, the Jesus Fellowship says it wants to "reassure people" about the future of the Cornhill burial ground.

A spokesperson said: "It is true that some parts of the Cornhill complex, including some land, are currently being sold.

"The burial ground currently belongs to the Jesus Fellowship Church (JFC). Although the JFC is in the process of closing down, the team dealing with the closure will be putting in place arrangements whereby the burial ground can be maintained, used and accessed as currently, in perpetuity.

"The question of who will take on the eventual ownership of the burial ground, including future maintenance and funding, will be addressed in due course by the team dealing with the closure."

The Fellowship also stated that access to the burial ground, rights of way and its parking area has been secured by covenants.

The JFC is disposing of assets as part of a plan to create a fund for victims of the historic sexual abuse at the Army.

The scandal led to the launch of Operation Lifeboat, a police operation looking into historical sex abuse at the 1969-formed Baptist movement. In 2017, The Chronicle & Echo revealed there had been some 150 reports made of either sexual physical, religious or financial abuse at the church and that at least 40 people were pursuing legal action against it.

Anyone with safeguarding issues or concerns, whether non-recent or current, should report them to the Jesus Fellowship Safeguarding Department.

If you do not feel comfortable approaching someone from the Jesus Fellowship Church then you can contact the police directly or the Safeguarding Helpline run by a support organisation independent of the church and the community trust on 0303 003 11 11.