The Uniting Church is committed to creating a safe and caring place for its members, those who come seeking help, those who are hurting and those in need.
In some cases, that very reaching out and unconditional love by its members has meant the Uniting Church and its agencies have been open and accessible to those who have abused our children, elderly and vulnerable.
It is the duty of care of the Uniting Church members to ensure the spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing of all people it ministers to. Church leaders and members need to support and encourage each other to create and maintain safe church ministries.
Both the Synod and Presbytery of the Uniting Church WA have held courses and workshops over the years on running safe ministries. In the late 1990s, it was under the Called to Care Program. More recently, the Uniting Church WA has joined the National Council of Churches Association’s (NCCA) Safe ChurchTraining Agreement (SCTA), which allows the organisation to run Safe Church Awareness workshops. Many church members have attended these workshops and learnt how to provide a safe and caring environment in their church, and have shared this knowledge in their congregations.
Safe Church Awareness Workshops are for every person in the congregation. There is anecdotal evidence across denominations that the more people in the congregations who have attended Safe Church training and are aware of the steps and processes to keep their church safe, the more likely it is to be a safe place for all.
Rev David Kriel, mission planner at the Uniting Church WA, Cindy Gorton, community services project officer at the Uniting Church WA and Neil Starkie, general manager of Uniting Church in the City (UCIC), have commenced training to take on the presentation of these important workshops.
“We aim to run regular Safe Church Workshops next year so that many more church members can participate and feel confident when taking up any position in their church, creating and working to provide safe ministry and community outreach programs” Cindy said.
Workshops will be held on Saturday 6 February, Uniting Church in the City; Tuesday 22 March, Mandurah Uniting Church; Thursday 28 May, Kalamunda Uniting Church; Saturday 23 July, Willetton Uniting Church; and Saturday 15 October, St Peter Emmaus Community Church. Refresher sessions will also be held for people who have taken part in the past, and discussions are underway to provide training in rural and remote congregations.
For more information contact Cindy Gorton on 9260 9800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the Uniting Church WA’s Safe Church commitment visit http://unitingchurchwa.org.au/safe-church/.