Church of England vicar who stripped to his underwear and carried out an ’emergency baptism’ is sacked


A Church of England vicar who stripped to his underwear to
carry out an ’emergency baptism’ has been sacked after a
tribunal ruled his actions were ‘unbecoming’ for a parish
priest.
Reverend Clive Evans, a barrister until he was ordained in
1995, was found guilty of unacceptable behaviour following
a Church of England tribunal last month, but no details of
his actions were initially revealed.
However, a full report has now been published describing
how Rev Evans was filmed carrying out the baptism in front
of a ‘shocked family’.
A panel found that he ‘acted inherently inappropriately’ and
the incident had led to a ‘loss of dignity’, before ruling he
should be banned from holding office in the Church of
England for six months.
The tribunal heard Rev Evans received a phone call while he
was eating breakfast from a parishioner, who cannot be
identified for legal reasons, asking if he could carry out a
baptism at their home later the same day.
Rev Evans told the tribunal, held in December, that it was
not a convenient time as he was due to be leaving for a
holiday in Liverpool with his wife.
He told the panel it was an ’emergency baptism’, but the
panel disagreed, stating there was ‘not an imminent danger
of death’.
After finishing breakfast and packing for his holiday, he
arrived at the house and informed the family he would be
stripping down to his underwear – citing that he did not want
to get wet. However, the panel also found that there was ‘no
extreme urgency which might conceivably be imagined to
justify a state of semi-nakedness’.
Recalling the incident, one family member said: ‘Clive then
started to remove his shirt which I thought was fair enough
seeing as he didn’t want to get it wet.
‘However when he started taking his shorts off I was
shocked and thought to myself why is he undressing
completely in front of my mother, my sister and I.’
The panel rejected Rev Evans’ excuse that he ‘did not have
time to consider what to wear due to the emergency nature
of the baptism’.
Instead, they found he had ‘ample time’ to consider what to
wear and knew at the time of the earlier phone call that he
was going to be carrying out a ‘full immersion using the
bath’.
The report of the tribunal continued: ‘Although we accept
that the family did not indicate unhappiness about his state
of undress, and indeed only Person 2 has expressed
reservations about it, the Panel has concluded that no
agreement was reached with the family to his taking off his
clothes leaving only his boxer shorts.
It added: ‘The panel considers that underwear is intimate
apparel. It is qualitatively different to, and has different
associations from, other forms of clothing, or even of
swimwear.
‘As such, there is a loss of dignity by stripping down to
underwear in the circumstances in which it occurred which
is inherently inappropriate and unbecoming.’
The panel concluded by unanimous verdict that Rev Evans
had engaged in conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the
office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders.
While Rev Evans was a ‘highly experienced and self-
confident priest’ who would have been respected, the panel
found ‘ought to have known better, acted more responsibly
and with far greater restraint, insight and self-control than
he did’.
Rev Evans was initially suspended from all duties in April
2019, before he was sacked from roles at St Peter’s Church
in Bromyard and nearby St Peter and St Paul’s Church in
Stoke Lacy.
The Diocese of Hereford, which has oversight of the
Bromyard church, said the initial suspension was ‘ so that an
enquiry can be carried out in relation to a complaint’ that
had been received’.
The Bishop of Hereford, The Rt Rev Richard Jackson, said:
‘The behaviour of Revd Evans is completely unacceptable,
and we will be keeping all those affected by this case in our
prayers.
‘Clergy are in a privileged position of leadership. Their
congregations and the wider community hold them in trust.
The professional guidelines to which they are bound to
make clear that this is a trust that they must not abuse.
‘The behaviour and actions of Revd Evans are in no way
reflective of acceptable church practice.
‘We fully support the findings of the tribunal and the
decision to apply the penalty to remove him from office,
which takes immediate effect.’

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