• main-banner-2
  • main-banner-1

It is to the great credit of the Church of England that it has decided to publish in full the review by Lord Carlile into its procedures dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse by the late Bishop George Bell. The Church cannot be accused of lack of transparency here! At the same time, the public reactions of the church leadership to the review will merit scrutiny. So far, the statements published today (15 December) come under the category of recognising that while “acting in good faith”, they should have done better and that lessons will be learnt. That is verging on blandness. In fact Lord Carlile’s review contains a damning catalogue of flawed practices and misjudgements which should be specifically addressed in the interests of integrity.

On Good Friday 2016, regarding the Bell case the archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stated on BBC Radio Kent: “On the balance of probability, at this distance, it seemed clear to us after very thorough investigation that that was correct and so we paid compensation and gave a profound and deeply felt apology.” It is now patently clear from Lord Carlile’s report that, as the George Bell Group has always maintained, there was no “very thorough investigation” at all. This should now be clearly acknowledged by the church leadership.

Lord Carlile emphasises that it was not in his brief make a judgment on the truth or otherwise of the allegations against George Bell, but it is quite clear from his review that on several counts Bell’s name has suffered a grave miscarriage of justice. Child sexual abuse is a deeply serious matter, and one can only applaud the much more rigorous attention that safeguarding is now receiving in church circles. But no less important is the need to search for the truth in any such case, however difficult it may prove to be. Those of us who have been  concerned for the reputation of George Bell have not been making any special pleading on his behalf: one would hope that, in the best traditions of British justice, all accused and all claimants will be treated fairly regardless of who they are. But in Bell’s case it is sadly ironic that one who fought so tirelessly for victims of injustice while he was alive, should himself have been denied justice after his death.

Much has been made of the harm this case has brought to the Church of England. But George Bell was not just an outstanding Anglican. He is acknowledged and admired worldwide and in all Christian traditions as one of the greatest figures in the modern ecumenical movement. There are many beyond these shores and beyond the Anglican Communion who will welcome Lord Carlile’s findings, and who will now want to share in the responsibility of continuing to honour him, learn from him and to sing with as great a vigour as ever his hymn “Christ is the King! O friends rejoice”.

Keith Clements



The George Bell Group, together with admirers of the Bishop worldwide, heartily welcomes Lord Carlile’s independent review of the process which led to the statement by the Church in October 2015 painting Bell as a paedophile. Lord Carlile deserves congratulations for producing such a comprehensive and authoritative report.

In his response to the report Archbishop Welby has chosen to emphasise that Lord Carlile has not sought to say whether George Bell was in fact responsible for the alleged assaults. That is not surprising, it was no part of Lord Carlile’s terms of reference from the Church to say whether Bell was innocent or not. But his devastating criticism of the Church’s process shows that Archbishop Welby was wrong in 2016 when he described the investigation as ‘very thorough’ and the finding of abuse as clearly correct on the balance of probabilities. A close reading of the detail of Lord Carlile’s report can only lead to the conclusion that he has thoroughly vindicated the reputation of man revered for his integrity across the Christian Church.

It is no wonder that the Church’s investigation has been compared by Lord Carlile tothe discredited police investigation of Lords Brittan and Bramall. The Safeguarding Group appear to have gone about their work looking for reason to doubt the veracity of the complainant. A proper investigation would have looked to see whether they could find independent corroboration of the complaint. That Bishop Bell had been dead for over half a century did not justify depriving him of the presumption of innocence or of due process. As Sir Richard Henriques pointed out in his report for the Metropolitan Police on historic sex offence investigations, the policy of believing victims shifts the burden of proof onto the suspect and ‘has and will generate miscarriages of justice on a considerable scale’.

The misconceived approach of the Safeguarding Group, described by Lord Carlile as neither fair nor equitable, was aggravated by the failure of their investigation to reveal easily discoverable evidence:


·         They failed to speak to Bell’s domestic chaplain during two of the four relevant years, who lived with the Bells in the Bishop’s Palace. He could have explained to them precisely why the complainant’s account did not add up;


·         Nor did they speak to Bell’s biographer, the historian Professor Andrew Chandler, who has studied the layout of the Bishop’s Palace at the relevant time;


·         They did not interview former choristers of Chichester Cathedral who might be thought to have been aware if Bell had been a paedophile. Eleven of them wrote to the Times complaining that the Bishop had been smeared to suit a public relations need.


Lord Carlile’s report has now left the Church with many searching questions, including how best to remedy the many defects in the current Practice Guidance so as to ensure that such an injustice can never recur. But most important of all, the time has now come for the Church of England to redress, without hesitation or qualification, the immense damage done to the fine reputation of a man who served it for so long and with such courage and devotion. Those institutions which summarily removed Bell’s name from their titles should now fully restore it.

Archbishop Welby, who has said in his response to Lord Carlile that he realises that ‘a significant cloud’ is left over Bell’s name, should join with the Bishop of Chichester in removing that cloud. The Church deprived the Bishop of due process, they should not deprive him of the presumption of innocence. There is not just no fire, there is no smoke. We share Lord Carlile’s disappointment that the Church has rejected the protection of innocence as a clear and general principle.

As Bishop Bell said in a broadcast to the German people in December 1945, now engraved in the Bell Chapel at Christ Church in Oxford: ‘Without repentance and without forgiveness, there can be no regeneration.’


Speaking at Wolfgang Schaeuble's 75th birthday celebration, Merkel paid tribute to his 45 years as a member of parliament. Merkel, dressed in the conservatives' black and the FDP's yellow, paid tribute to Schaeuble as a European, a fighter for German unity, a passionate parliamentarian and an intellectual force who kept calm in hectic situations. 

But she also wished him time to spend with his family and try out new things, as she presented him with the complete works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian known for his opposition to the Nazis. "We wish you a good read, new insights, all the best and, in the name of the CDU and from me personally, dear Wolfgang Schaeuble, many heartfelt thanks," Merkel said.

Click here to read the full article.

Thank you to the people at Plough Quarterly Magazine, who gave permission for us to reprint a portion of this article. 

Bonhoeffer in China

Yu Jie: On October 8, 2010, it was announced that Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident writer, had been chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. At the time, he was in prison serving an eleven-year sentence for inciting subversion (he remains a prisoner today). The authorities knew that Liu and I were good friends – we had known each other for twelve years and I was writing his biography. Immediately after the announcement, my wife Liu Min and I were placed under house arrest.

The ceremony to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu in absentia was on December 10. The day before this was the darkest of my life. Plainclothes agents of the secret police kidnapped me from my home, pulled a black hood over my head, and brought me to a detention room. For six hours they tortured me almost to death. They told me: “If our supervisor gives the order, we will dig a hole and bury you alive.” I was stripped of all my clothes and beaten badly as they took pictures. Then they forced my fingers backward one by one, saying that they would break the fingers I had used to write against the Communist Party. Eventually I lost consciousness.

The first hospital they brought me to refused to treat me. So they brought me to a more advanced hospital, where physicians told me that if the torture had continued another half hour I would not have survived.

Do you remember what you were thinking during the interrogation?

Before I lost consciousness I prayed to God in my heart. I clearly sensed his presence and felt the assurance: without the permission of God, not one hair of my head will fall. These words came to me as well: “Do not fear those who can kill the body, because they cannot kill the soul.” Those two promises of Jesus were my prayer.

After my kidnapping, my wife was still under house arrest. All phone lines and the internet were cut off, and for five days she had no way of finding out where I was. She was under such stress that she lost half her hair. Fortunately, by divine providence, we had sent our two-year-old son for a visit to his grandparents shortly before, so he was spared this experience.

After my arrest and torture, they tried to bribe me – they promised that if I would stop criticizing the regime they would provide a platform for me to write popular literature, and I would get rich.

Even after my release, the harassment and periods of house arrest continued. I could not go to church or attend Bible study; I was cut off from my Christian brothers and sisters. I looked in my son’s eyes and asked myself what kind of father I could be to him if we remained in China in this impossible situation. And so in January 2012 we came to the United States.


You weren’t raised as a Christian. Were there influences in your childhood and youth that laid the groundwork for your conversion later?

I was born in the city of Chengdu in the province of Sichuan, a beautiful, mountainous region with a long history of resisting the imperial power in Beijing. So from the beginning of my life I drank in a dislike for centralized power.

My father is an engineer. His thinking and lifestyle were quite westernized, and even as a young boy he treated me as an equal. In a Confucian culture that emphasizes hierarchy, this was rare.

The moment of my political awakening came when I was sixteen and attending high school. I still remember hearing the news of the mass murder of students protesting on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. That day, June 4, 1989, marked a turning point for me – I began to realize the true nature of the Communist regime. I would never believe their lies again.

Three years later, I arrived in Beijing myself, as a student at Peking University, China’s oldest and most selective institute of higher learning. I studied there for eight years, earning a master’s degree. But far more important to me than my formal coursework were my independent studies in the library. Thanks to a friendly librarian who bent the rules, I had access to restricted books published in Taiwan. I read accounts of the campaign of civil disobedience against Taiwan’s authoritarian government in the 1970s and 80s, and learned how a pro-democracy movement can be successful. What especially impressed me was the prominent role that Taiwan’s churches played in this movement.

But you were still just a secular observer.

That’s right. In 1998, while still a graduate student, I published my first book, Fire and Ice, a collection of satirical essays criticizing Chinese society. Looking back, it amazes me that the book ever made it past the censors. But that was the year Bill Clinton visited China – the first US president to do so since the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Chinese leadership wanted Western media to portray China as a free society. What better way than to allow publication of a book critical of the regime?



Life Together: Reflection and renewal in the style of Bonhoeffer's Finkenwalde Seminary

Part of the “Finkenwalde Experiment” at Freeborn Lutheran Church in partnership with The Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens and The International Bonhoeffer Society
Freeborn Lutheran Church and Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens Exit 215, Stanwood, WA
Rev. Dr. Mark Brocker, Faculty
Rev. Erik Samuelson, Chaplain
A retreat for lay and ordained Christian leaders based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s community practice at the Finkenwalde seminary, as outlined in “Life Together” and other writings from that period. The purpose of this experience at Freeborn Lutheran Church and Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens in Stanwood, WA is to engage a community in a week of “Life Together” for personal renewal, learning, spiritual and vocational discernment, and community formation, as a way to begin connecting Bonhoeffer’s insights and work to the challenges we face today.  
Registration is open and spaces are limited, scholarships are available

View Retreat Brochure

For more information visit: http://www.freebornchurch.org/life-together-retreat/



Filmed on location in Europe and the United States, Come Before Winter is a docudrama that lifts the curtain on cruel ironies of the final weeks of World War II in Europe and tracks two longtime foes of Adolf Hitler: iconic German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and virtuoso propagandist, Sefton Delmer.

Buy or Rent this film: http://comebeforewintermovie.com/order-dvd/

Access Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/bonhoeffermovie


Title: Come Before Winter, Dietrich Bonhoeffer And His Companions In The Dying Gasps Of The Third Reich

Director: Kevin Ekvall

Producer: Gary Blount

Production Company: Stories That Glow Collectors

Year of Completion: 2016

Length: 75 minutes

Language: English

Genre: Docudrama

Website:  www.comebeforewintermovie.com


Filmed on location in Europe and the United States, Come Before Winter is a docudrama that lifts the curtain on cruel ironies of the final weeks of World War II in Europe and tracks two longtime foes of Adolf Hitler: iconic German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and virtuoso propagandist, Sefton Delmer.



Filmed on location in Europe and the United States, Come Before Winter is a docudrama that lifts the curtain on cruel ironies of the final weeks of World War II in Europe and tracks two longtime foes of Adolf Hitler: iconic German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and virtuoso propagandist, Sefton Delmer.

For years Bonhoeffer has been speaking out against Hitler and the Nazis.  Such boldness has landed him in prison where he is left to consider the moral dilemma of the resistance in the company of his fellow prisoners.  Crushed by the failure of operation Valkyrie, Bonhoeffer discovers that “it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.”

Meanwhile, in a secret location outside London, a team of propagandists gather daily to transmit a fake news radio program into German-occupied Europe, spreading confusion and fooling the enemy into thinking that they are listening to a real German radio station. Leading this team is Sefton Delmer and by his side is Bonhoeffer’s friend Otto John, eventual head of West Germany’s domestic intelligence service and Ian Fleming, British naval intelligence officer and creator of the iconic James Bond spy novels. 

Did fearless German resistance plotters and shrewd Allied propagandists make a difference? And how does Dietrich Bonhoeffer bring into focus ethical challenges during his final days in the dying gasps of the Third Reich?



Come Before Winteris a passion project of Minnesota psychiatrist Gary Blount.  Inspired by Bonhoeffer’s exemplary faith and courage, Blount began researching Bonhoeffer during his college years and has been fascinated with the story ever since.

Over the last few decades Blount researched this beloved theologian, making several trips to Europe to visit Bonhoeffer’s family, interview scholars and experience the places where Bonhoeffer’s life unfolded.



“Our story is about the final chapter in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and what must have been the aching for deliverance by the Allies who were rapidly closing in.  We felt our time frame would extract something of the essence of his life and the perspective which he seemed to seek—’the view from below’.  This view now includes more uncertainty, wartime cruelty, and vengeance.  Bonhoeffer had traded collegiality with thought leaders like Barth and Niebuhr for companionship with an amazing collection of characters, not all ‘pure in heart.’ Sefton Delmer, our story teller, was proud of his frolicking and perverse propaganda.  Delmer’s admiration of Bonhoeffer was overshadowed by his cynicism toward the ‘opportunistic’ German Resistance. His broadcast had not only been heard extensively but had, he believed, contributed to the war effort.”



“I was asked by Gary Blount to direct this film back in 2013.  We didn’t begin serious work on the film until January of 2014 but during that time I read as much as I could by and about Bonhoeffer.  In addition to doing a tremendous amount of research, Gary had written a treatment of the film and come up with the film’s title.  He wanted to include interviews with Bonhoeffer experts but also start the story from the perspective of a British Intelligence Propaganda team, a daring but intriguing idea.  We decided the movie would be a sort of docudrama.”

“It’s a humbling experience to witness both the passion and effort of those who have been caretakers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s story.  When Gary Blount first approached me with this project, I knew Bonhoeffer was a gifted writer but had assumed his story rather bland.  I was wrong.  His life spun a fascinating tale that adds veracity to his words.”



“A new documentary rediscovers a World War II campaign that was stranger than nonfiction.”

– Smithsonian Magazine,  April 2017

“Many portrayals of Dietrich Bonhoeffer present him as a heroic Christian martyr who single handedly resisted the Nazis during the 1930s.  Come Before Winter manages to avoid this kind of hagiography and shows us the final days of Bonhoeffer’s life within the context of his family and friends in the resistance—essentially his Sanctorum Communio.  The film remains faithful to the Bonhoeffer of history and current research on the final days of the German resistance.  A must see film!”

– Dr. Jeffrey Gang, Loma Linda University,  School of Religion

“…a touching blend of documentation and life stories…a remarkable monument to the German Resistance!”

– Dr. Christian Weber, Study Secretary, Mission 21, Basel, Switzerland

“Masterfully explores the tragic last chapter of the young theologian’s life.”

– Martin Doblmeier, documentary filmmaker

“Great story! Not preachy.”

– Kelley Carlson, teenaged movie critic

“Living in an age where our own comfort and security seem paramount in the values of so many in our society, Come Before Winter is a powerful affirmation of the eternal values of putting our lives at risk rather than seeking our own.  Rather than choosing the comfort of living in the United States, Bonhoeffer chose to return to Germany.  The example of his life speaks to us today through this evocative documentary.”

– Richard Osborn,  Vice President,  WASC Senior College and University Commission




Gus Lynch was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was raised in New York City. His first language was Spanish. He currently resides in Los Angeles while pursuing his acting career.


Aubrey Wakeling (SEFTON DELMER)

Aubrey Wakeling was born in St Albans, England. Classically trained, he has numerous film and TV credits to his name, including the lead in the Emmy winning Power of Art (BBC). He has lived in Los Angeles, California since 2010.



Rebecca Summers was born in Hampshire, England. She studied theater at Queen Mary's College and screen acting at the International School of Screen Acting in London, UK. She has appeared in many feature films, award winning shorts and international commercials. She made her theatrical debut playing the lead role in the psychological thriller The Spell; followed by The Gridiron, Silent Retreat, The Lovaganza Convoy, Black Hearts and Advantageous. She is currently living in LA.


Scotty Ray (IAN FLEMING)

Scotty Ray is an adjunct Professor in Drama at La Sierra University. Scotty holds an MFA in Acting from the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School at Harvard University and a BA in Mass Communication with minors in drama and religion from Walla Walla University. Improv Training from The Groundlings Theater in Hollywood.


Kelly Reed (OTTO JOHN)

L. Kelly Reed is a professor of English at La Sierra University in Riverside, CA. He has been teaching there since 2002 and has been acting on stages for even longer. Come Before Winter is his first feature film. Kelly also edits fiction for Red Adept Publishing.