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It is a privilege, what we do, is it not? And with privilege comes responsibility. One of our responsibilities of course is to ensure that those to whom we minister are safe. Safety within our churches is a particular concern, in the wake of a number of scandals involving abuse of parishioners (often children) by people in authority. Sadly, we have had to accept that no one – not even those in the highest offices – can be above suspicion.
So how can we ensure that abuse has no place in our own communities and churches? Well, an important first step is to ensure our safeguarding training is up to date. It is crucial too to be aware that every diocese now has a fully resourced Safeguarding department – so if ever we notice anything that gives us cause for concern we can (and should) seek help. We should also try to keep up with the Church of England’s position on the subject – and for this reason I am very glad that the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, who is the lead bishop for safeguarding, has given us an up-to-date overview. This article is complemented by Katherine Bloomer’s exploration of the pastoral implications of safeguarding, particularly when working with volunteers, and Sam Rushton’s theological reflection. The themed section is completed by two articles looking at the subject from a more specialist angle – Helen Thorne writes about domestic abuse and what to do if we suspect it is happening among our congregations, and Giles Morrison takes us into cyber territory – an unfamiliar dimension for many of us.
There should be much to interest Readers in the rest of this issue too. Don Roberts writes about focal ministry in Wales, and we are pleased to welcome Roger Clarke back with another article on key Greek words in the New Testament. Chris Hudson gives us some suggestions for exploring Lent, and Paul Clark anticipates the themes of Holy Week and Easter with his article on bereavement. We then hear from two Readers whose ministry is distinctive and innovative – Richard Holloway (and his parrot) who is making use of a blog to spread the gospel, and Katharine Salmon who sees her roles as minister, teacher and friend as interrelated.
In our regular books section, we are pleased to feature an extract from Buying God, by the multi-talented Eve Poole. And, finally, the CRC news section includes contributions on General Synod by Rosemary Walters and the CRC website by Vyv Wainwright.
In the next issue of The Reader, we will be celebrating fifty years of women in Reader ministry. I have had the privilege of speaking to several inspirational women already, but if you are a woman who was licensed for Reader ministry in 1969 or the early 1970s, or if you know someone who is, then please do get in touch if you can, before the end of February. The Autumn issue will focus on the Psalms (copy needed by the middle of May) and the final issue of the year will look at what next for Reader ministry (for which I will need copy early in August). Just a reminder though, the ‘Theme’ articles account for only a third of the content of an issue – I am always delighted to receive suggestions for articles on other topics. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can explore possibilities.
With best wishes
Editorial - RICHENDA MILTON-DAWS
Message from Bishop Martyn - THE RT REVD MARTYN SNOW
Some changes you need to know about - ANDREW WALKER
Will we be part of the story? - RUTH HALDANE
THEME – SAFEGUARDING
Getting it right - THE RT REVD PETER HANCOCK
‘Safeguarding is at the heart of the gospel’ - KATHERINE BLOOMER
Online safety and safeguarding - GILES MORRISON
Safeguarding – a reflection - SAM RUSHTON
When home is not a safe place - HELEN THORNE
Reader ministry in context - DONALD ROBERTS
Key words in the New Testament: Charis - ROGER CLARKE
Come with me. It is the only way’ - CHRIS HUDSON
Death is nothing at all? - PAUL CLARK
Reader ministry with a parrot and a blog - RICHARD HOLLOWAY
Changing hats and juggling time - KATHARINE SALMON
BOOKS AND RESOURCES
Book extract: Buying God - EVE POOLE
Reading Synod - ROSEMARY WALTERS
The Reader web page - VYV WAINWRIGHT
Letters from Readers
Postscript - ANDREW WALKER