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Concerns about Spac and politicians
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 06, 2019 09:09AM

[www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk]


Concerns continue to be raised about the relationship between a controversial church and the Croydon Conservative Party.

SPAC Nation has been described as an “extremely dangerous organisation” by Steve Reed who is standing for re-election as MP in Croydon North.

The church meets every Sunday at different locations around London and on its website describes itself as getting gang members to give up their weapons and join the church.

But an investigation published by HuffPost UK earlier this month found that some young people were being pressured into taking out loans to give to the church.



As well as financial exploitation, concerns about safeguarding issues and even sexual abuse have also been raised.

Police are examining allegations but no criminal investigation has been launched.

The church holds services in different locations across the capital and shelters young people who have joined the church in what it describes as “trap houses”.

It is believed that three of these are based in Croydon.

Mr Reed told us: “The church leaders encourage politicians and senior police officers to come to their churches and say they have stopped young people becoming gang members.

“Where it went beyond that was in the Fairfield by-election where the Conservatives put up a candidate that was a pastor in this organisation.”

Earlier this month one pastor from the church, Jayde Edwards ran for the Conservative Party In a Croydon Council by-election.

The 20-year-old got 537 votes, missing out on being elected to represent Fairfield to Labour’s Caragh Skipper, with 849 votes.

Mr Reed added: “I tweeted my concerns about SPAC Nation and I got inundated with phone calls from people, people telling me they have been criminally exploited. I took the allegations to the police.

“I think the Conservatives covered it up. It is immoral to say the least and illegal possibly.

“One of the concerns I’ve got about Mario Creatura (Conservative Croydon councillor and parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central) was he saw allegations were being made publicly, but be gave members of SPAC access to the electoral register. It is highly irresponsible.”


He is referring to members of the organisation being given the information during canvassing for the Fairfield by-election.

Mr Reed is concerned that the church is operating across the capital and he thinks that more than a dozen local authorities, including Croydon, should be looking into the safeguarding issues.

After he raised initial concerns he had a meeting with head pastor Tobi Adegboyega.

Mr Reed said here the pastor told him that the allegations were from “disgruntled individuals”.

But he admits that politicians across the board were taken in by the organisation.

“Politicians of all parties have been hoodwinked into going to church services, believing it was a church. I don’t criticise the people who were hoodwinked in this way,” said Mr Reed.

“But the Croydon Conservatives went one step further to outsource a campaign to the church. When the allegations came they did not disown their candidate.”

Cllr Creatura did not respond to a request for a statement but Conservative colleague, Councillor Jason Cummings, was adamant that the local party has no connection to the church.

Cllr Cummings said: “We don’t have any involvement with the church at all.

“Jayde Edwards is a member of that church and a member of the Conservative Party. In the same way a significant number of our activists are members of other churches, mosques or gurdwaras.


“There is no difference between Jayde and anyone else. We have no professional relationship with SPAC Nation at all.

“If people have any information about any criminal activity they should take it to the police. It is not our responsibility to look into.

“Anytime anyone raises concerns of this nature about any organisation it is right that they are investigated. That is a matter for the investigating authorities.

“One of the things that should be looked at is the links the Labour party has had. Sarah Jones was on Victoria Derbyshire promoting SPAC Nation. It is a little bit rich that things are thrown at us.”

In February 2018 Labour’s Sarah Jones, who is standing to re-election in Croydon Central, appeared on the BBC 2 programme alongside SPAC Nation members praising the church for its work with gang members.

She has since raised concerns about the group herself. On November 8, she tweeted: “Over recent months I have been passed increasingly concerning reports about the SPAC Nation church, regarding safeguarding of Croydon young people and allegations of financial fraud.”

Ms Jones added that she passed on the information to the Charity Commission and police.

As for what happens now, Mr Reed wants to see the church closed down and support for young people leaving the church.


He said: “There has to be a through investigation into the allegations and I would like to see the church closed down and see the the authorities take protective measures to stop them recruiting vulnerable young people.

“There are an awful lot of highly traumatised and damaged young people who need help they are not getting.”

Mr Reed accompanied a group of former SPAC Nation worshippers to speak to police officers about the allegations.

He said: “The allegations of financial exploitation is very worrying, but really grim allegations of sexual abuse was the most upsetting.

“I think this is an extremely dangerous organisation that is targeting vulnerable young people.”

A spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police confirmed that it is looking into allegations made against the church.

“We have received allegations that pertain to potential fraud and other possible offences that relate to SPAC Nation,” said the spokesperson.

“Officers are reviewing the allegations to identify if any criminal offences have potentially been committed. Once this review is complete, a decision will be made as to whether a criminal investigation is launched. We cannot comment any further at this time.”



When contacted, Croydon Council could not confirm whether it was investigating the organisation.

A spokesperson said: “We do not comment on safeguarding concerns related to individuals or specific organisations, but we are there to offer support. If anyone is worried about someone at risk, or feels at risk themselves, please contact our safeguarding team on 0208 726 6400, or on 0208 255 2888, if urgent.”

SPAC Nation and Jayde Edwards did not respond to requests for comment.

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How did I miss this article? 12th November
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 07, 2019 10:48PM

[gal-dem.com]

By Kemi Alemoru CULTUREFIRST PERSONGAL-DEM 12th November 2019


SPAC Nation sounds good on paper. The Croydon-based youth church’s aim was to allow its congregants to center their lives around a positive force and to foster a community of caring, humble, kind people. Made up mainly of ex-gang members, it provides housing for youth in need and gives hope to a generation of young, mainly black people, that seek to be “liberated from poverty”. However, rather than being an asset to London, SPAC Nation has become a menace, using religion to position itself as the moral authority over people’s lives while allowing rogue pastors to act with impunity. Some of the preachings within the church have distorted elements of Christianity for financial gain and silenced victims.

After a series of troubling features and documentaries, the church is facing an onslaught of criticism. On Twitter, there were whispers of dodgy loans prompted by accounts like @SpacExposed, a dedicated SPAC-sceptic YouTube channel called The Exposer and dozens of posts from concerned friends and family. Members of the congregation posted videos asserting that they were still in support of the church despite being in suspiciously large amounts of debt. In one video a boy passionately tells the camera: “My bank account was formless, it was void,” after revealing he’s £10,000 in debt. “But giving seed has to drain you so you can know what you can produce from nothing.” Then in September, the church was the subject of an MTV documentary, Reggie Yates Meets World, although, given the depth of claims mounting on social media, this doc was noticeably paper-thin. Another online sleuth revealed that Reggie’s cousin is a minister at the church.

Undoubtedly, the biggest blow came from the Huffington Post’s Nadine White and Emma Youle, who have published several features and short films as part of a shocking exposé into troubling practices within the congregation. This included senior people at the church befriending vulnerable young people, promising them wealth, and taking sometimes over £10,000 worth of loans out in their names. Some were advised to defraud banks by starting companies and taking out overdrafts, over 50 of these suspicious companies exist. The news outlet also alleged abuse in the church’s shared accommodation (dubbed “trap houses”). There’s now an active investigation being conducted by the Serious Fraud Office.


How could this happen in a church? Well, it’s all about context. SPAC has bounced back from a series of accusations mostly due to the fact that the alleged fraud of several of their members is messily intertwined with people’s spiritual beliefs. Churches should be, and many times are, a community that you can trust. The very nature of religion is grounded by faith.

SPAC is not unique in bringing together vulnerable people – many congregations have had people pass through their doors in their lowest hour. Having grown up going to church I’ve heard people’s testimonies about being broke, caught up in crime, struggling to find their way out of forced sex work, addiction, abuse and more. Pastors can be marriage counselors, family therapists, mentors, and sometimes provide shelters and meals for the homeless. Finding a group of people to support you in your time of need is vital, and of course, the thing that unites church communities in their activism and friendship is their belief in God. The scam artists within SPAC’s ranks exploit all of this.

It’s not uncommon for churches to have collection plates or to ask churchgoers to “tithe”, but when you have a number of young people taking out loans to give hundreds of pounds worth of “seed” money, other members of the congregation need to speak out. There are videos of people preaching that God was in debt to the Earth and so you too must start your spiritual journey in debt. It’s completely perverse to manipulate people into thinking that this is what Christianity entails and whether you’re an atheist, a SPAC Nation attendee or a concerned Christian, it needs to be called out.

“Using religion positions them as the moral authority over people’s lives while allowing rogue pastors to act with impunity”

Not to go all Dot Cotton on you but one of the bible verses that stuck with me the most when I was younger – mostly because of the strange image it conjured – was that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. So to see a church instructing their congregation to display their wealth (like Tobi Adeboyega, the leader of the church flossing with his Lambo while living in a multi-million pound house), to attract new members rather than promoting the actual belief system first and foremost, is uncomfortable.

Yet Tobi has received glowing praise from then-prime minister Theresa May’s chief of staff, for tackling knife crime. He also won a leadership award sponsored by the London mayor and was filmed up-front at the Tory party conference in Manchester. A BBC Three doc last year said the church was “radical”. Meanwhile, other senior members have a close relationship with the Conservatives with pastor Jayde Edwards, 20, running in a local by-election.

Until you consider that perhaps the allure of wealth is what ensnares young people who have left a gang lifestyle behind and want to find another route to stability, it might be difficult to understand why SPAC was so revered in the first place. Croydon has the highest rate of low paid workers in south London, it also has the third-highest number of homeless families in the entire city, in wards like Fieldway, nearly half of children aged under 16 live in poverty.

The story of SPAC is a complex cocktail of factors that have led to the paralysis of tackling real concerns. It received so much praise (and subsequent disdain) because of the unique make-up of the congregation: young, black kids who are vulnerable to crime and poverty. People have raised concerns that if it was while children being manipulated perhaps there would have been more media attention.

It’s true that SPAC may have helped some, but it also may have devastated others. Where some churches can go wrong is by fostering a dutiful culture of silence, an inability to question authority and that is sadly paired with each member’s desire to only see or focus on the good in the community. Also, with Christianity on the decline on the whole in the UK perhaps there’s a substantial fear that loudly denouncing bad practice publicly draws negative attention to the faith and further taints the public opinion of religion.

But, it is important that other Christians within these congregations (and in other nearby congregations in the community) listen to people’s concerns and mobilise against predators. Uncovering abuse, homophobia, bullying, embezzlement, fraud and so on within the church should not be seen by believers as an attack on Christianity. On the contrary, the congregation of SPAC and beyond need to support accusers to keep the church free of the evils they constantly pray against. The most important thing to be protected are the vulnerable youth, some of whom have already experienced trauma. For SPAC members, and any other bystanders being silent on these issues almost makes these practices seem part and parcel of church. In the end, these young people still need to feel supported and cared for, and if other churches don’t want this to become indicative of the religion as a whole, they could step up and show them a less warped interpretation of religion.

I’m not going to pretend this is the first church scandal of all time. Sometimes feigned enlightenment is merely another vehicle to bully, coerce or manipulate others – as has been seen in multiple religions the world over. However, I truly believe that places of worship can be forces for good. Someone who has found an opportunity to corrupt a well-meaning situation for their own game will only achieve success on SPAC Nation-levels if the people around them remain silent. It needs to be stamped out early. SPAC Nation’s behaviour is not a winning argument for atheism, or proof that gangsters can’t reform, it’s a cautionary tale about unchallenged greed.

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Spacnation launch social media campaign
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 07, 2019 11:12PM

All over social media members of Spac are now posting their testimonies of how Spacnation transformed their lives.


Critics are concerned that they have yet to address the serious claims made about including claims of emotional and financial abuse.

These, they claim are ' isolated incidents' propogated by ' disgruntled members'. Well , well, well ...... where have we heard that before? This forum probably heaved a collective sigh on hearing that. Its a typical cultic reaction to avoid accountability and an attempt to gloss over real and serious concerns in the public domain.

Tobi has treated all concerns as a joke and danced in response to the claims whilst calling the black community 'retarded' on youtube. [www.youtube.com]

Serious concerns remain about his use of the title ' Pastor' and who ordained him or whether he was in fact ordained at all by any respectable and accountable authority.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/07/2019 11:16PM by Loriwoke.

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Re: Spacnation
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 09, 2019 06:52AM

Complaints can be made through this link [forms.charitycommission.gov.uk]
Charity number 1152988


[apps.charitycommission.gov.uk]

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Re: Spacnation
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 12, 2019 07:23AM


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Re: Spacnation
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 12, 2019 07:25AM

SPAC Nation: Rogue Pastors Accused Of Pressuring Youth To Donate Blood For Money For Church Funds
Former members say "bleeding for seed", which involves young people giving the church money made from blood donations, has become normalised.
By Emma Youle
Nadine White

A controversial church praised by politicians for its work to tackle knife crime has been accused of “sickening” allegations that some of its pastors pressured young people from the congregation to sell their own blood for money to donate to the church.

HuffPost UK can reveal that some members of SPAC Nation, a church with a large congregation that includes vulnerable young people from impoverished areas, have been taking teenagers to donate blood for medical trials.

The controversial practice is known as “bleeding for seed” in the church and has been described as “vampire-like” exploitation by outraged critics of SPAC Nation.

Youngsters told HuffPost UK that some members go to donate blood and are paid up to £100 by medical trial companies. This money is then handed by the young people over to the church’s pastors.

It is alleged some senior pastors at the church were actively encouraging the paid donations, until the church’s leader Tobi Adegboyega put a stop to the practice recently.


continued here [www.huffingtonpost.co.uk]

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Re: Spacnation
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 14, 2019 06:59AM

[www.theguardian.com]

UK charity watchdog investigates evangelical church Spac Nation


The charities watchdog is investigating an evangelical church over allegations that young members were pressured by pastors take on personal debt and even sell their blood to raise funds.

The Charity Commission said it was looking into the governance, management, policies and practices of the Spac Nation church, a registered charity set up to spread Christianity, particularly in relation to the safeguarding of its beneficiaries and its financial arrangements.

Spac Nation’s trustees have been ordered to immediately bank all the cash held by the charity while the investigation takes place.

The church has previously won plaudits from politicians for work it said was doing to divert young people away from gang violence. But since last month a number of exposés have reported claims it was pressuring young members to beg, borrow and steal money for the church.

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This week HuffPost UK reported allegations that some Spac Nation members had taken teenagers to donate blood for medical trials, in a practice known as “bleeding for seed”. The church denies the claim.

The commission said Spac Nation had been subject to a regulatory compliance case since April 2018 after it received reports about safeguarding and financial concerns. This summer it issued the charity with an action plan that required a response from trustees by November. Information contained within that response “raised further concerns about the charity’s financial controls, policy and procedures,” it said.

“Of immediate concern to the commission is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash,” the commission said in a statement. “As a protective measure, the commission has issued an order under section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money.


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“The commission is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity.”

The commission said it had opened the inquiry after allegations emerged that individuals had been encouraged to give money to the charity by taking on personal debt.

A commission spokesperson said: “Charities exist to improve lives and strengthen society; the issues that have been raised related to Spac Nation in recent weeks are highly concerning, even more so as the allegations are entirely at odds with the expectations about the way that charities will operate.

“The opening of this inquiry is an important step that will allow us to examine these concerns further and establish the facts. We will seek to provide assurance to the public and the community that these matters will be considered fully and, where necessary, resolved.”

A report with the commission’s findings is expected to be published once the investigation is concluded.

In a statement from its board of trustees, Spac Nation said the inquiry was “needful to lay to rest some unverified allegations”. It added: “Inquiry is what we have always asked for. If anything is found wrong we will adjust it, and if not we will keep going strong.

“If any pastor or leader is caught pressuring people to donate, such leader will be expelled without delay, not to talk of pressuring to donate blood for money. We encourage people to donate blood and all they can for the community but we also say not for money ever, that just won’t happen here.”

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Re: Spacnation
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 14, 2019 07:02AM

[www.telegraph.co.uk]


Church investigated by charity watchdog over claims pastors pressured congregants into selling blood for donations

Gabriella Swerling, social and religious affairs editor
13 DECEMBER 2019 • 5:32PM
Follow
Ascandal-hit church is being investigated by the charity watchdog over claims that pastors pressured young congregants into selling their blood for money to donate to the church.

The Charity Commission today announced that it had opened an inquiry into SPAC Nation, based in London, to probe financial and safeguarding concerns.

The commission, which describes the church as a charity set up to "advance Christianity" and that works particularly with young people, has ordered it to bank all cash while the investigation takes place.

The announcement comes after HuffPost UK reported allegations that some members of the church had been taking teenagers to donate blood for medical trials in a practice known as "bleeding for seed".

The publication reported that that some members go to donate blood and are paid up to £100 by medical trial companies. This money is then handed by the young people over to the church’s pastors.

The church, which denies the claims, has previously been praised by politicians for its work to tackle knife crime and gang violence.

However SPAC Nation was already embroiled in allegations that some of its pastors pressured young people to take out loans to donate to the church, revealed by a HuffPost UK investigation last month.

The commission said a case had been opened on SPAC Nation in April last year, and in November this year information received from the trustees "raised further concerns about the charity's financial controls, policy and procedures".

In a statement, it added: "Of immediate concern to the commission is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash.

"As a protective measure, the commission has issued an order under Section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money.

"The commission is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity."

The commission said it opened the inquiry to "examine matters furthers" after allegations emerged that individuals had been encouraged to give money to the charity by "taking on personal debt".

A Charity Commission spokesman said: "The issues that have been raised related to SPAC Nation in recent weeks are highly concerning, even more so as the allegations are entirely at odds with the expectations about the way that charities will operate.

"The opening of this inquiry is an important step that will allow us to examine these concerns further and establish the facts.

"We will seek to provide assurance to the public and the community that these matters will be considered fully and, where necessary, resolved."

A report with the commission's findings is expected to be published once the investigation is concluded.

SPAC Nation was contacted for comment.

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Mail online By BHVISHYA PATEL FOR MAILONLINE
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 14, 2019 07:07AM

Gabriella Swerling, social and religious affairs editor
13 DECEMBER 2019 • 5:32PM

[www.dailymail.co.uk]

Charity Commission investigates Spac Nation 'Church of Bling' over claims pastors 'pushed young congregation members into selling their blood to raise funds'

Ascandal-hit church is being investigated by the charity watchdog over claims that pastors pressured young congregants into selling their blood for money to donate to the church.

The Charity Commission today announced that it had opened an inquiry into SPAC Nation, based in London, to probe financial and safeguarding concerns.

The commission, which describes the church as a charity set up to "advance Christianity" and that works particularly with young people, has ordered it to bank all cash while the investigation takes place.

The announcement comes after HuffPost UK reported allegations that some members of the church had been taking teenagers to donate blood for medical trials in a practice known as "bleeding for seed".

The publication reported that that some members go to donate blood and are paid up to £100 by medical trial companies. This money is then handed by the young people over to the church’s pastors.

The church, which denies the claims, has previously been praised by politicians for its work to tackle knife crime and gang violence.

However SPAC Nation was already embroiled in allegations that some of its pastors pressured young people to take out loans to donate to the church, revealed by a HuffPost UK investigation last month.

The commission said a case had been opened on SPAC Nation in April last year, and in November this year information received from the trustees "raised further concerns about the charity's financial controls, policy and procedures".

In a statement, it added: "Of immediate concern to the commission is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash.

"As a protective measure, the commission has issued an order under Section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money.

"The commission is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity."

The commission said it opened the inquiry to "examine matters furthers" after allegations emerged that individuals had been encouraged to give money to the charity by "taking on personal debt".

A Charity Commission spokesman said: "The issues that have been raised related to SPAC Nation in recent weeks are highly concerning, even more so as the allegations are entirely at odds with the expectations about the way that charities will operate.

"The opening of this inquiry is an important step that will allow us to examine these concerns further and establish the facts.

"We will seek to provide assurance to the public and the community that these matters will be considered fully and, where necessary, resolved."

A report with the commission's findings is expected to be published once the investigation is concluded.

SPAC Nation was contacted for comment.

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Re: Spacnation
Posted by: Loriwoke ()
Date: December 14, 2019 07:08AM

Complaints can be made through this link [forms.charitycommission.gov.uk]
Charity number 1152988


[apps.charitycommission.gov.uk]

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