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Queensland Synod moderator, Rev David Baker. Photo: Ben Rogers
Queensland Synod Moderator, Rev David Baker. Photo: Ben Rogers

Standing in solidarity for safe ministry

October, the month the jacarandas come out, when students see the signs and start studying for exams, when storms roll across the land.

It’s the month when we start planning for the end of the year and look forward to what we will focus on in the new year.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will be finishing its public hearings by the end of November. It will report to the federal government next year.

Last month the Uniting Church in Queensland launched an interim redress procedure so that survivors of child sexual abuse in our care can be heard and we can respond in good faith.

I was heartened to hear that both the Queensland government and the federal government have finally made some indication that they will respond positively to the Commission’s call for a national redress scheme for those survivors who suffered abuse while in an institution’s care.

The Synod has also been implementing our Safe Ministry with Children program across the church. This is so that this kind of abuse will not happen again in our life; that we will be communities where vulnerable people are safe and are able to encounter God’s love for them in Jesus Christ.

Implementing such programs in congregational life is challenging. They create greater demands on already over-committed people. It is a space for others to step in and support and help those people who are running programs for children and young people.

Across the church we need to deal with reactions such as “It couldn’t happen here!” and “This Safe Ministry with Children stuff is too much bureaucracy”.

The sober truth is that it has happened in our churches, in our Sunday schools, in our youth groups, in our schools and agencies, and we need to order our lives and shape our ministries to prevent abuse.

The Royal Commission website presents some stories of survivors in a way that helped me understand and appreciate more fully what some people have been through, and how it has affected their lives. These stories are not for the faint-hearted. They are confronting. Yet they need to be heard.

As I heard them, I found a stronger commitment, a deeper reason, a greater desire to be part of a church that does what it can for survivors and does all it can to order its life so that people are safe.

Jesus in his ministry identified himself with children, with those who had no power, no standing in his society. He asks that we stand in such solidarity also.

Rev David Baker
Moderator, Queensland Synod

For more information about the Royal Commission’s stories of survivors visit childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/share-your-story/your-stories

For more information on the Synod’s Interim Redress Procedure visit: ucaqld.com.au/interim-redress

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