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Looking out and gazing inward

For the last two and a quarter years this column has aimed to bring the safeguarding agenda to a wider audience in our Church, especially in London District. I’ve tried to offer a variety of contexts in which to reflect on and underpin key messages, draw attention to new policy and practice developments and comment on national news stories. Some readers may have found a few of the topics covered a little obscure or left field and at times I’ve tried to inject a note of humour into what is clearly a serious issue. For example, some readers may be currently delighted not having to read, yet again, about the travails of Premier League football in London SE25.

The rich tapestry of experiences that pass through our lives each day that stimulate our thinking, and which for me give me ideas about what to write, are sadly rather truncated for the present. No more (actual) art galleries, museums, concerts, church, long country walks, meetings with friends and family, and yes football matches, may leave our horizons looking a little bleak. But the proliferation of creative on line resources are beginning to provide welcome distraction and engagement and so the virtual world will have to be the fresh source of inspiration. However we know that the online world can provide unwelcome opportunities for those whose intention is to harm and abuse.

So this column will remind you from time to time of the availability on the Church’s website of advice and guidance about keeping safe online, and in any more direct dealings we have with vulnerable members of our community as part of volunteer teams. I will endeavour to reflect on stories and developments that may or may not have a Coronavirus dimension. This last week, for example, we have learnt of the acquittal of Alec Salmond and last night on TV there was a film about Michael Jackson.

Both stories spoke to varying extents of power, fame, celebrity, and behaviour in plain sight. All outward facing words. It’s perhaps difficult to draw more definitive conclusions from either of these specific cases that would apply to church life. But in these times characterised by words such as isolation, distance and lockdown, we do well to make sure our inward gaze does not prevent us seeing what is going on out there.

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