Britain's Methodist Church says there were almost 2,000 reports of physical and sexual abuse within the institution over more than half a century, and has apologized for failing to protect the victims.

Martyn Atkins, general secretary of the Methodist Conference, made an "unreserved apology" Thursday. He said the abuse "inflicted by some Methodists on children, young people and adults is and will remain a deep source of grief and shame to the church."

The report, published after three years of research, found 1,885 cases of sexual, physical, emotional and domestic abuse going back to 1950. In 26 percent of the cases, church ministers or lay employees were identified as the alleged perpetrators.

There are about 200,000 Methodist Church members in Britain, where Anglicanism is the major Protestant denomination.