Having committed myself to writing 300 words every week, it’s sometimes a challenge to find something in the news, or a new policy initiative, to write about that fits with or links to the Church’s safeguarding agenda. There was only one news story over the weekend* and arguably a defining moment of it was Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon. Electrifying and very relevant are hardly worthy adjectives to describe it, but his words spoke to very real truths and made people sit up and take notice.
So what’s the connection to safeguarding? Well I scratched my head a bit and thought, well, everything really, if we progress his argument that the power of love is transcending. It can apply to any number of settings that safeguarders find themselves in from planning and delivering training to carrying out complex risk assessments. From offering support to a survivor to challenging unsafe practice.
But the key thing was that Bishop Michael made people sit up and take notice and listen with care to what he was saying at so many levels. I’m not clear what the assembled guests were expecting, but it probably wasn’t what they got. When we come along to training courses or attend meetings where there is an item about safeguarding on the agenda, there is a probably a sense of thinking we know what’s coming and so we may start to zone out if we feel we have heard it all before.
So the challenge for church leaders, trainers and local safeguarding officers is to find ways to make people sit up and take notice and think again about the topic. We may not be able to replicate Bishop Michael’s style but with fire in the belly (he mentioned other aspects of fire but not this one!), Pentecost yesterday and John Wesley’s conversion day this coming week, this is surely the time to think how we can capture the power of love to make the difference we want to see.
*The Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex