A new suite of resources to assist the church to be a safe place for children and young people was launched in March this year. Mardi Lumsden reports.
The new Safe Ministry with Children resources are the result of feedback from congregations, collaboration between the Synod office, presbyteries and several committees, and a commitment that the church’s ministry with children is focussed on keeping them safe so, as moderator Rev David Baker says, “they can experience the love of God”.
In the last year 150 people have been trained in Safe Ministry with Children in the Central Queensland Presbytery. Presbytery and Fitzroy Parish child safe officer Ros McKendry has trained most of them, travelling around 2500 km in the last year.
“It is good to think that so many people have wanted to be informed,” she says. “It is important for the kids and the adults in our congregation.”
Queensland Synod safe ministry (children) administrator Lynette Drew says the resources represent a greater purpose.
“Our driving force is to provide safe activities for children; the resources and tools just make it happen.
“We aim to work towards a standard greater than best practice. If we want to motivate people to send their children to our activities, they need to be assured that activities are well-planned, venues are safe and people are open and welcoming.”
A lot of these things are already happening, adds Lynette. “Safe Ministry just puts some structure around it and enables congregations to show that they are doing the right thing.”
Ros says that a number of people she has met feel overwhelmed by the legislation, and the new Safe Ministry with Children resources help them to understand the rules, learn how to report potential abuse and prepare safe programs for children.
“People really appreciate it,” she says.
Pastor Tanya Errey of Chinchilla Uniting Church says as a smaller, rural congregation it was helpful for their child safety officer to be trained in the new resources at The Downs Presbytery meeting recently.
“Our child safety officer found it advantageous to undertake the training with a cross section of church members,” says Tanya. That person then briefed the church council on the new policies
“The training has been very useful and we are making good progress in adopting new procedures in making our church a safer environment for all.”
To access Safe Ministry with Children resources visit ucaqld.com.au/safe-ministry-with-children