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Methodists’ safeguarding proposals meet with resistance

15 July 2016


"Apology never enough": the Revd Helen Cameron lights a candle at the start of the Conference, last week

"Apology never enough": the Revd Helen Cameron lights a candle at the start of the Conference, last week

MINISTERS and lay people who undertake pastoral work in the Methodist Church may be required to keep a log of their visits, a group set up to review safeguarding procedures has proposed. But the proposal has met with resistance from members of the Methodist Conference, meeting at Central Hall Westminster last week.

One member, the Revd Kathryn Flynn, from East Anglia District, questioned whether the log would stop abuse by people in the Church, and asked: “Is it protecting the perpetrator or protecting the person they are going to visit?”

Another, the Revd Jacqueline Bellfield, from Liverpool District, said that the keeping of a log without “valid and valuable reasons” could discourage people from seeking pastoral care from the Church.

The suggestion was contained in a report from the Past Cases Review Implementation Group (PCRIG), which was established by the Methodist Conference in 2015 to implement the 23 recommendations contained in a review of how the Church had handled past cases of abuse (News, 28 May, 5 June 2015).

A report to the Conference detailing the work of PCRIG said that “significant progress” had been made in implementing the recommendations. The first piece of work undertaken by the group was to establish links with groups and individual survivors of abuse, and to establish a “reference group” of survivors with whom they will keep in close contact as their work progresses.

The assistant secretary of the Conference, the Revd Helen Cameron, said that the report on progress was being presented one year after the Conference reiterated a public apology for the abuse detailed in the Review.

“Apology can never be enough,” she said. “What we owe to those who fought this, survived, and continue to live with the memory and pain of abuse, is a deep, personal, and faithful commitment to prevent any further abuse.”

The Church’s safeguarding adviser, Tim Carter, told the Conference that “interesting developments with the Church of England” was one of the outcomes of conversations on safeguarding issues with other denominations. A joint safeguarding worship group had been established to prepare liturgy, prayers, and other worship materials for use in local churches, he said.

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