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Child Safe Church training held at the Logan Central Multicultural Uniting Church. Photo was supplied.
Child Safe Church training held at the Logan Central Multicultural Uniting Church. Photo: Supplied

Keeping kids safe at church

Jesus gave unequivocal instruction about the importance and care of children. Journey explores how this is enacted in the Uniting Church today.

While the church has been at the forefront of caring for children from the earliest days of rescuing abandoned orphans to pioneering widespread education, recent investigation and reporting has demonstrated that churches and church institutions have not always been places of safety.

In response, the Queensland Synod has committed itself to the vision of a church where children are not only affirmed and nurtured but are safe from physical, emotional and spiritual harm.

At the heart of this work is supporting congregations and their ministry to the communities which they serve. A systematic approach includes policies, processes, tools and training.

Moderator Rev David Baker sees the Synod’s role as more than just resourcing congregations to meet current community expectations, legal obligations and insurance requirements regarding child safety.

“We want to do better than meet the legislative requirements,” says David. “We want congregations and church institutions to be places of excellence when it comes to the care of children.”

This commitment has seen the Synod employ Lynette Drew as a full-time Child Safe Church Administrator. Lynette is working with the church community to support a culture in which we embrace safe ministry to families and children of our generation.

“The tools I am wishing to share with the congregations will enhance their ability to appropriately demonstrate their Christian commitment to children, not to engender a culture of suspicion and accusation,” says Lynette.

Lynette is connecting with the presbyteries and congregations through training programs and individual support to work with the Synod’s Child Safe Church policy and supporting documents.

“By practising a culture of shared guardianship, all members of the church, including church councils, play a vital role to ensure implementation and monitoring of child safe policies and practice within the local congregation,” says Lynette.

Lynette’s work with presbyteries and congregations involves familiarising everyone in the church community with appropriate boundaries and enabling them to speak out when they feel those boundaries are crossed.

“It is vital to ensure that everyone feels comfortable to raise their concerns in a respectful manner even when they feel those concerns are ‘small’,” says Lynette.

If you have any concerns in relation to any matter involving Child Safe Church please contact Lynette on lynette.drew@ucaqld.com.au

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