The preacher at my church yesterday started his sermon by waving his passport, and then went on to talk about identity and using it to prove who we are. By extension he went on to speak about knowing and recognising the identity of the risen Christ as He appeared to his disciples.
In my newspaper this morning there was a feature about older people from the Caribbean who travelled to this country in the 1950's as children with their parents but who now find themselves unable to prove that they have a right to work or claim state benefits as they lack the necessary documentation such as a passport. This recent development is clearly very worrying for those affected and diplomats from Caribbean countries intend to press their case at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference taking place this week, just next door to our office in the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre.
When someone offers to do a job in the church that involves children or young people, or vulnerable adults, we are normally extremely grateful and especially if we know them well, we probably don’t give a thought to asking to see proof of their identity when they first come forward. We’ve known them for year and grown up with them in some cases. When someone new to the church volunteers, I expect that we don’t generally ask to see their passport or some other form of identification either. But knowing that the person offering to work in the church is who they say that they are is an important aspect of safe recruitment, hence the importance of the DBS verification process which is about seeing physical proof of who you are and where you live. If you don’t have a passport or driving licence which seem to be the most popular forms of ID, there are, of course, many other ways to prove identity often through documents that demonstrate a person’s significant contribution to society in general, perhaps through taxation or to their local community through council tax payments.
Some disciples asked for proof of the resurrection and Jesus offered it in very concrete way. As safe recruiters we will always need to ask the right questions about identity but equally recognise that the means to show this will vary according to circumstances.