Service of Cleansing of a Church following Historical Clergy Sexual Abuse

Prayers of Penitence

The Lord said to Solomon: If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land

2 Chronicles 7:14

God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit,

have mercy on us.

Trinity of love,

have mercy on us.

Most merciful God,

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

we confess that we have sinned

in thought, word and deed,

on our own account and as a church,

in the present day and in the distant past.

We have harmed your little ones,

we have abused the trust placed in us,

we have violated bodies, minds and spirits.

Lord, have mercy.

We have failed to listen to those in pain;

we have not stood alongside those who suffer;

we have averted our gaze from the evil in our midst.

Lord, have mercy.

We have failed the community we serve,

hiding behind our great walls

and not sharing your love with the people of Bensham & Teams.

We have been indifferent to their needs.

Lord, have mercy.

We have turned people away when they came to seek you

because we have been self-serving,

because we have been full of grumbling and negative attitudes.

Lord, have mercy.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us.

Hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation

that we may show your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,

bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Adapted from the Litany, Common Worship Times & Seasons, pp226-227

Additional prayers of penitence may be offered by those present.

May Almighty God,

who sent his Son into the world to save sinners,

forgive us,

and cleanse us and this church from all unrighteousness,

and bring us his pardon and peace.

And may the Holy Spirit come upon us now

to renew us in faith and hope and love,

that we may live and serve this community to the glory of God. Amen


Jesus our Saviour,

you bore in your body

the pain that we have inflicted on each other.

Heal all those who have been hurt

by the clergy and people of this church.

Teach us once again how to be your body in this place.

Restore us and renew us

that we may rejoice in your resurrection

to the glory of the Father

and in the power of the Spirit. Amen

Old Testament : Jeremiah 30:12-22

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

I sought the Lord and he answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,

to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears them

and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted

and will save those who are crushed in spirit.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

The Lord ransoms the life of his servants

and will condemn none who seek refuge in him.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

Verses from Psalm 34

Gospel :    Matthew 18:1-9


Loving Father,

we hold before you all those who have been abused

by clergy and leaders from this church.

Some buried their memories deep.

Some took them to the grave.

Some live with the pain even now,

the degradation and the shame.

We pray for your healing

for painful memories,

for damaged souls,

for difficult relationships.

Give them the opportunities they need

to tell their stories to people who will listen,

and give them your peace. Amen

Eternal judge,

those who came before us did great harm to your little ones.

We pray for them, wherever they are,

that they might have the opportunity

to recognise and acknowledge

the harm they caused in this place,

that they may turn to you

to seek your mercy

and know your pardon and peace. Amen

Living Lord,

bring new life to your church here in Bensham & Teams.

Help us to proclaim your name in word and deed,

to bring your love and care to all your children,

to stand alongside them in their fears and anxieties,

and to rejoice in your loving presence in our midst.

May these old bones live again to your glory. Amen

Lord of the Church,

we pray for this church community,

that it may be a blessing to Bensham & Teams,

welcoming all those who come to seek you.

Turn our negative attitudes into hope;

turn our gossip into compassion;

turn our grabbing into generosity;

turn our miserable moaning into great rejoicing.

Renew and refresh us

that we may serve you in faith and hope and love. Amen.

Those present may wish to add their own prayers.

Blessing of Water

As this prayer is said, salt is sprinkled into the water.

Almighty God,

you gave us salt to bring purity and health,

and your Son Jesus gave us living water to cleanse and refresh us.

By the means of this salt and water,

bring a blessing on this church:

cleanse and purify this building and this church community,

take away all that causes hurt and harm,

and wash us clean from all the sins of past and present,

that we may glorify you and be a blessing to this area,

in the name of your Son, our Lord,

refreshed and renewed in the power of the Spirit. Amen

Every part of the church building is sprinkled with water.

Prayers may be said by anyone present.


Jesus said: Abide in my love.

Love one another as I have loved you.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Eucharistic Preface

And now we give you thanks

for you created men, women and children in dignity and honour,

and call them all to live together in love and respect

to mirror your care and compassion for all your little ones.

You plant in us a desire for your kingdom here on earth

where everyone may live in peace,

that with angels and saints

we may sing with joy the unceasing song of your glory:

Holy, holy, holy, ….


Lord Jesus Christ,

who is present with us now in his risen power,

abide in this place

and with the people of this church

and with those here today.

Protect us from all harm.

Take away anything that causes us to stumble.

Remove the barriers that get in the way of doing your will.

Make us ever alert to the evil that creeps in to the corners.

Give us your healing and your peace,

now and always. Amen


May God who made us

restore in us the image of his glory.

May Christ who saved us,

bring us his peace.

May the Spirit who guides and strengthens us,

protect us from all harm.

And the blessing of God Almighty …


Some material used in this service is © Archbishops’ Council 2000, but heavily adapted.

Some material inspired by Russ Parker & Michael Mitton, Healing Wounded History Workbook, 2001

Collect inspired by Janet Morley, All Desires Known.

Eucharistic preface inspired by Alan Griffiths, We Give you thanks and praise.