Last Sunday, like many churches, we marked Safeguarding Sunday. It was a day to give thanks for all those working for the good of all of us, a day to hold in our hearts all those who have been hurt or harmed by our actions or inaction, a day to look to the future and commit to do our part to make and keep this a safer place.
Being a deeply intergenerational community, where typically half of those gathering are under 16, both makes this topic feel tangibly important… and yet, perhaps, a little more challenging to know how to actually do it. Some might even call it a “brave” decision – with a slight raised eyebrow of disapproval.
But because we always meet intergenerationally at our main gatherings, we are used to talking about Big Things appropriately. We don’t want to shy away from tough topics. We want our children and young people – and everyone! – to know they can always ask questions, and who to go to when things don’t seem right. So often, on so many topics, keeping people in the dark has led to harm.
We make a lot of use of small group discussion within our gatherings, living out our commitment to safeguarding by ensuring that conversations are age appropriate, people know they can always reach out to the ministers for more support if needed – but also giving voice to those who might find it hard to speak up in larger groups. We offer blogs, articles, and bible commentaries for people to read within our Exploring time, or perhaps take home and read later. Sunday Gatherings don’t aim to “do it all” – they kickstart and encourage through-the-week praying, exploring, and sharing.
Weaving together these different voices and different perspectives, both from within our community and through the external reflections, we seek to learn and grow together… in order to join in with what God is calling us to do! In the ancient wisdom of the bible’s book of Proverbs, which we were discussing this week, the mother of a king gave him this advice:
8 Speak out on behalf of those who have no voice,The wisdom of the mother of King Lemuel, recorded in Proverbs chapter 31
and defend all those who have been passed over.
9 Open your mouth, judge fairly,
and stand up for the rights of the afflicted and the poor.
So… giving voice to all ages as we talk about holding safe spaces where the people and things we love can flourish seemed really appropriate.
Here’s “What Just Happened”. As you watch… I wonder, what is God challenging you, or reassuring you, today?
More than just local
On Sunday, we were also able to celebrate that this isn’t a challange that we take up alone.
In close conversation with the wonderful team at Cambridgeshire Ecumenical Council – our area-wide Churches Together group – we are deliberately seeking to gather those from across all trinitarian Christian traditions as well as those not currently part of worshipping community to form a deeply rooted yet Northstowe-shaped church family. This year, the Safeguarding Sunday campaign by Thirtyone:eight brought church leaders across denominations – including Methodist, Church of England, Vineyard, United Reformed, Roman Catholic and the Elim network, together in a prayer of unity. We used this prayer as we re-commissioned our leaders and ourselves:
Dear God,©Thirtyone:eight for Safeguarding Sunday 2022
Help us to be a church that:
Loves, welcomes, protects.
Listens, learns, serves.
Repents, restores, transforms.
Values, cares, believes.
God of Justice and compassion, hear our prayer.
Help us, heal us, guide us, we pray.
In Jesus name.
This ecumenical prayer featured on the national Safeguarding Sunday Prayer video, featuring Safeguarding Heads and Church leaders from 25 UK Church denominations coming together for the first time publicly to pray that the church would be a safer place for all.
Why not watch is, and join our prayer?