Carey `crushed and let down' by scandal

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, said yesterday that he felt "crushed and let down" by the scandal surrounding the Nine O'Clock Service in Sheffield, but said he wanted to see "a closer link between the wider church and innovative, creative groups".

"I want them to feel encouraged by the wider church," Dr Carey told the BBC.

He was speaking after a day-long consultation at Lambeth Palace on the future of unconventional worship, arranged a year ago but given topicality by the collapse of the Nine O'Clock Service.

The "rave" vicar at the centre of the scandal, Chris Brain, who is accused of sexually abusing female members of his flock, has left psychiatric hospital after more than two weeks' treatment, Manchester's Cheadle Royal Hospital confirmed last night.

The consultation opened with an alternative service in the crypt of the palace chapel. "It was transformed, with netting around the walls, television screens and loud music," said the Bishop of Leicester, Dr Tom Butler. "We spent about half an hour in the afternoon talking about [the Nine O'Clock Service]. We must not allow Sheffield to destroy what might be a gift of God to the church."

The consultation heard from representatives of some of the 200 or so groups around the country which are experimenting with dance, electronic music and video technology in services. Among them was a group from York which advertises on the Internet.

"If culture is now something that changes every three years, we have to be careful," said Dr Butler. "It may be that the culture some group is handling and exploiting is actually the culture of three years ago that they like and get fossilised in."

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