St Bartholomew and All Saints

Royal Wootton Bassett

Dear Friends,

Safeguarding our Children and Vulnerable Adults

Back at the beginning of Holy Week, a letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York was sent to all clergy. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse had just completed its first hearing into the Church of England, focusing on the Diocese of Chichester as a case study. And many failings had been identified. Hence the Archbishops’ letter.

Some of you may have read the letter then, which was circulated to as many of you as possible via email, and made available as a paper copy in church. In it the Archbishops wrote:

We want to emphasise the crucial importance for the Church of England to be a safe place for all who join in the worship of the living God, in God’s mission, and in ministry. Clearly, we need to hear what the Inquiry will say when they issue their report, but we are convinced that there is much we are doing and much we can do better about safeguarding. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week at the hearing, the vast majority of our parishes are safe places and many thousands of people, mainly volunteers, are working hard to ensure church is safe and understand the need for training, good record keeping and are committed to having policies and practices in place and kept under review.

We take very seriously all that has been heard by the Inquiry. Archbishop Justin said when he gave evidence last week that he had learned again through listening and reading the evidence given to the Inquiry, that we must not simply say sorry, but that we must also take action that demonstrates clearly that we have learnt the lessons. It is a fact that Bishops and Archbishops are now rightly required to listen, learn and act in accordance with safeguarding legislation and good practice.

And we as a parish and church community have our own responsibilities too, including:

Everyone, as a citizen and fellow human being and fellow child of God, has a responsibility for the safety, well-being and protection of others.  Everyone within the church community also has a responsibility to ensure that there is a welcome for all people, including children and young people and those adults seen as vulnerable.  Our policies and procedures in this respect should therefore be a concern of the whole congregation. So do please take a moment to have a look, whether on the website or on the noticeboards in church.

And so we pray:

Lord Jesus we praise you for calling us to the service of others.

We pray for a generosity of spirit to ensure the vulnerable are protected.

We pray for a compassionate heart so that we will reach out to those who are wounded by abuse.

We pray for courage and determination as we seek the safety of everyone in our parish communities.

We dedicate ourselves to this work of service and pray that you will help us to do your will at all times and in all places. Amen.

(from the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Service)

Canon Jane

P.S. Next month I hope to write a few words about curacies, as we welcome Oliver Blease, and his wife Mariama, to St Bartholomew’s to serve as our curate. For now however just a word or two about the arrangements for his welcome.

Oliver will be ordained deacon at Salisbury Cathedral on Sunday 1st July at 10.30am. I will be going, and others are very welcome too – no tickets required.

On Sunday 8th July we will be inviting the 8am congregation to linger over coffee in order to meet Oliver and Mariama. And at midday there will be a bring-and-share lunch in the Church Hall for everyone to come and say hello. So please put this in your diary now.