Vicar behind nineties ‘rave church’ is charged with rape and sex assaults: Christopher Brain to appear in court over alleged offences against women at nightclub-themed Anglican venue

  • Reverend Christopher Brain, 66, faces assault charges dating back to 1981

A former minister behind the ‘rave church’ of the nineties has been charged with rape and sexual assault offenses against victims dating back to the 1980s.

The Rev Christopher Brain, 66, was the founder and leader of the Nine O’Clock Service (NOS) in Sheffield during the 1980s, when his rave-inspired church attracted a large following of young worshippers.

Brain now faces court after being charged with one count of rape and 33 counts of indecent assault which allegedly took place between 1981 and 1995.

South Yorkshire Police investigated the church leader for more than four years after a former member of the NOS came forward with allegations about Brain’s behaviour.

The force is appealing for anyone with any information, or any further complainants or witnesses to come forward.

The Rev Christopher Brain, 66, was the founder and leader of the Nine O'Clock Service (NOS) in Sheffield during the 1980s, when his rave-inspired church attracted a large following of young worshippers.

The Rev Christopher Brain, 66, was the founder and leader of the Nine O’Clock Service (NOS) in Sheffield during the 1980s, when his rave-inspired church attracted a large following of young worshippers.

The church’s authorities conduct their own review of the previous management of the NOS congregation and offer support to a group of claimants.

The NOS was an upstart church of its time and was supported in the 1980s by church leaders who saw it as an effective way to appeal to disillusioned young people, who may have been turned off from traditional Christian congregations.

The Rt Rev David Lunn, then Bishop of Sheffield, told the BBC that NOS has ‘permanent significance’ and is a ‘new development in the way we understand the Christian religion’.

The NOS was initially held at St Thomas Crookes in Sheffield, and later moved to a larger building at Ponds Forge in the city centre.

Considered charismatic, Brain wore the clothes used by Robert De Niro in the film The Mission at his ordination service, which was accelerated after impressing George Carey, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury.

The NOS was initially held at St Thomas Crookes in Sheffield (pictured), and later moved to a larger building at Ponds Forge in the city center

The NOS was initially held at St Thomas Crookes in Sheffield (pictured), and later moved to a larger building at Ponds Forge in the city center

A police spokesman said that all the charges ‘relate to allegations of sexual offenses committed against women who joined the movement’.

Chief Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, District Commander for Sheffield, said: ‘These charges follow a complex and wide-ranging investigation into events dating back 30 or more years.

“An investigative team has been working hard to build a complete picture of what is reported to have happened.

“We understand this is a matter of concern and one that will have an impact on individuals and communities. We will continue to provide appropriate support and updates to those affected.’