Safeguarding: “not just getting a DBS”

The CTE Enabling Group met in March 2024 with a focus on theme of safeguarding and the mission of the church.

The Enabling Group representative for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England, Rev George Samiec, reflects on this gathering of the ‘CTE family’…

The spring meeting of CTE’s Enabling Group met with a focus on safeguarding. I describe to my church that the Enabling Group meeting is akin to a Synod where the members and trustees meet to hear reports, to share news and views, and to conduct business. It is always a gathering of the new and ‘not so new’ – of ‘first timers’ and ‘been here quite a while’ – whether in terms of organisational membership or the delegates who attend, it is a combination of ‘hail, fellow, well met’ and ‘who are you?’ The atmosphere is one of collegial warmth and fellowship. That’s not to say that there are not differences! The ecumenical journey is about difference and togetherness and how both can be parsed truthfully and lovingly.

The safeguarding focus at this meeting was an uniting time where whether we were discussing individual pastoral care in a congregation, talking about organisational past and present practices, analysing assumptions brought to this topic, or sharing the shape of ‘best practice’ in an environment of continual monitoring and learning, everyone wanted to grow in an understanding of safeguarding and the mission of the Church. And so, in presentations and group discussions, issues of power and control, how to be lovingly ‘suspicious’ and also caring, how to support those who have suffered prolonged abuse were discussed openly even when things might have been uncomfortable. If nothing else, the takeaway message was that Safeguarding is not just ‘getting a DBS’!

Encountering God in worship and other points of contact means that a holy God is meeting sinful humanity and that isn’t about safety per se as who knows where the Lord will lead a person or his people? Christians have always wrestled with the tension of ‘domesticating’ God – making him ‘safe’ – often a bigger and nicer and more powerful version of ourselves – whereas in Christ, we learn that above all, God is good! In Jesus, God came to serve and not to be served – and if there is ever a hermeneutic which should guide how his followers should engage with others whether in the Church or in the world, then truly serving others will produce the best safeguarding possible one day at a time!

Focus on safeguarding

The Enabling Group had two presentations on safeguarding. The first was a theological reflection from CTE President and Moderator of the Free Churches Group, Rev Canon Helen Cameron.

Thirtyone:eight’s Head of Safeguarding, Karen Eakins, delivered a presentation on developing a healthy safeguarding culture.

Download the Thirtyone:eight presentation.

Thirtyone:eight is a Charity and Network in Association with CTE.

The business bit…

The Enabling Group also has some regular items in its programme such as various reports from the CTE team or ‘central office’ and from the CTE regions and, at each meeting, there are presentations from various member churches in a segment called From my/our tradition. It is always fascinating to learn how and why there is the Christian tapestry we have here!

This session we heard from the Church of England about the privilege, the responsibility, and the burden of being the ‘state church’.

Download Tim and Annika’s slides to accompany the presentation.

And from the Elim Pentecostal Church of the movement of the Holy Spirit among them for the past century.

The next Enabling Group Meeting is in October 2024. In the meantime, the Member Churches of CTE walk together with a renewed commitment to seeing safeguarding as one cultural expression of what it means to serve others in Jesus’ name.