top of page

History is not bunk – sorry, Henry Ford

Has there been a year for you when everything changed ? (And I’m not thinking about the last two). Was it a year you had planned and longed for, or was it a year of unexpected developments, for better or worse?

My weekend paper contained a feature in which seven writers were invited to nominate a particular year they each thought was the greatest for film, music, art and TV and arguably changed the course of popular culture. The suggestions were from 1965 to 2003. I was right there with 1965 and 1975, but from 1984 onwards it all became a bit hazy, so I suppose that shows my age! I won’t bore you with the details of each year but when I read that Bruce Springsteen believed the single snare drum beat at the start of Bob Dylan’s 1965 single Like a Rolling Stone was ‘like somebody kicked open the door to your mind’, I felt that tingle.

Two weeks ago I was asked to make a short presentation at the first ‘Survivor’ webinar, in which I would detail the history of safeguarding in the Methodist Church in 6 minutes. A tall order, but as originally an historian, I found sequencing the key dates of legislation, policy publication, a presidential address, the Past Cases review and IICSA, and what these meant and still mean for the Church, a really helpful way of demonstrating the evolution of our improving practice. These dates were not necessarily pre-planned, and we know that survivors of abuse and others with increasing awareness had campaigned long and hard for many of the developments that have occurred over time. For some, those future dates, the milestone years, were longed for without knowing when exactly the change might happen. There are historic and current parallels here in respect of, say, the ordination of women or same sex marriage.

Although we might feel and see tides turning, and recognise new thinking emerging, the date that something actually happened can infuse our individual or collective memories. This was the highpoint, or perhaps sadly the low point, or the pivotal moment when it all changed. Our history is riddled with such dates and historians will argue forever about which is the most significant. For John Wesley it was 24th May 1738 at 8.45pm.

So in our safeguarding world, what will be the next important date and what will it signify? My final observation in the webinar presentation was that we are still on a journey, and to some extent we don’t know when, or even if, we will arrive.

For a bit of fun, here are five years in which events occurred that some say changed everything. Do you know what happened in each? Answers next week!

1517, 1649, 1688, 1789, 1832

21 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page