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Opportunities and Threats

Too late for a commentary on Valentine’s Day, I’m now looking forward to the Methodist Safeguarding Conference that takes place live and in person in three weeks’ time. 60-70 people from the Church’s safeguarding network are gathering at a conference centre at Eastwood in the heart of D.H. Lawrence country near Nottingham. In fact the suite that we had planned to meet in was named the Chatterley Suite, but to enable better social distancing we have been moved to a larger room. Lawrence had much to say about emotional wellbeing, sexuality and personal relationships set against an industrial background. So with our conference title being ‘Inclusive Church and Safeguarding’ I think we are well placed culturally, geographically and, hopefully, psychologically to address the topic in full.

But as the conference co-ordinator I am getting towards what the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once described as ‘squeaky bum time’. It’s been a scramble in the last few weeks to get everything prepared after new year Omicron worries made us question the conference’s viability, but all is now in place, fingers firmly crossed. A great opportunity to meet, share and learn after two turbulent years. However last minute uncertainty lingers - will the programme be good enough, will the presenters (and the technology) perform, will the catering be up to scratch, will a welter of positive lateral flow tests affect the final numbers, what if the event becomes a ‘super-spreader’?

I am aiming to be philosophical and like to feel that the conference delegates will be warmly receptive and appreciative of the efforts made by many people to get the show back on the road. We managed to meet last in early March 2020 just before the first lockdown and unlike some annual events that have been cancelled twice, we only missed out once in 2021. It’s a good, strong starting point for our SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of where conference planning is currently at. But really the next three weeks will all be about realising opportunities and making every effort to mitigate against threats.

An apology – last week I omitted the answers to the historical landmark year quiz. It is of course fully appreciated that there will no doubt be many other, and far more recent, key years that readers will recall which changed much or everything – women’s suffrage in 1918, decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967, the first Race Relations Act in 1968 etc. So this selection are just earlier examples.

1517 – in October 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, thus sparking the Protestant Reformation.

1649 – In January 1649 King Charles 1 was executed after a trial organised by Parliament as the winners in the English Civil War, leading to the establishment of the republican Commonwealth by Oliver Cromwell.

1688 – the ‘Glorious Revolution’ when James 11 was deposed, replaced by William and Mary, and Parliament asserted its authority by changing absolute monarchy to the start of the constitutional monarchy in place today.

1789 – the French Revolution starting on the 14th July 1789 signalled the end of the ‘ancien regime’ and prompted the rapid growth of revolutionary movements in Europe and South America in particular.

1832 – the Great Reform Act was passed in the UK that became the starting point for the journey of developing parliamentary democracy and in in so doing, probably averted popular revolution in this country.

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