My Address, ‘Safe as Churches?’, NCCA Conference -Safe as Churches- Mar 2004 final formed part of the introductory presentations at the National Council of Churches Consultation in Canberra in 2004. I have listed it here on my blog in order to access it online.
Its concluding comment continues to challenge me, and us, the churches:
I recently released a Bishop’s vision for the Diocese of Tasmania in a booklet form entitled “a healthychurch … transforminglife“. Some ten days later I held a Service of Prayer and Reflection for all those who have suffered abuse. This Service was entitled “Out of the Depths” and the Order of Service was published in booklet form.
At the end of this Service a woman approached me with her husband and asked if I would sign both the “healthychurch … transforminglife“ booklet and the “Out of the Depths: A service for those who have suffered abuse” Order of Service booklet.
I duly signed both the booklets. I was curious, however, and I asked if there was any particular reason for having the booklets autographed. The woman replied that when she heard my “transforminglife” launch address and read the booklet she was enthusiastic about its content but wondered whether this would just be another document collecting dust.
“But”, she commented, “now that I have seen you do the second booklet (“Out of the Depths”), I believe the first one. Thank you.”
The credibility of the Church depends on our commitment to making it a healthy church, a safe church.
May God help us to achieve this through our vital NCCA Conference ‘Safe as Churches?’.
Shalom, Bishop John Harrower