It seems an obvious choice to reflect a bit on Coronavirus this week. The Monday morning train into London seemed a bit emptier than usual, and travellers appeared subdued. I know Mondays are not everyone’s favourite days, and London commuter trains are not renowned for their enthusiastic chatter, but the mood felt a little sombre. Will this be the last day of commuting before being told to work from home?
As a home worker anyway, for me working from home would not be too great a hardship. Casework supervisors are well connected by our computer system and our phones have conferencing facilities. But the loss of regular direct contact with colleagues would be sorely missed.
But this week delegates to the annual Methodist Safeguarding Conference which took place last week will be returning to their regular work and reflecting on what they have learnt. Our focus was on the Past Cases Review (PCR) five years on. It was good to be able to reflect on a number of significant achievements since the publication of ‘Courage, Cost and Hope’ in 2015, but also identify what still needs to be done to embed cultural change in the Church with regard to safeguarding. Jane Stacey, the PCR project manager helped delegates to visualise the extent to which ministers and church leaders were fully on board and understood their responsibilities, whilst Rev Dr Jane Leach spoke about the impact of the roll out of ministerial supervision.
For many the highlight was Rev Leslie Newton’s presentation (Chair of Yorkshire North and East). He spoke eloquently about Safeguarding, being the body of Christ, as well as forgiveness, truth and grace. His wider context was concerned with an enquiry into why the Church finds it challenging to implement respectful uncertainty, a key theme emerging from the PCR process. It was an important message to take back to all our churches.
So in the short term will we be able to do this in person? Spring Synods are on the horizon, and no doubt other events are planned when in theory it would be possible to share this important message that links to the development of a wider theology of safeguarding. Can we go out with our message of transformation when the emerging message is one of isolation?
Our prayers for our country, and our world, are critical at this time.