Members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) will discuss global safeguarding guidelines when they meet next year in Hong Kong. The guidelines are being drawn up by an international Anglican Safe Church Commission, which was established by the Council when it last met in 2016, in the Zambian capital Lusaka. The guidelines will be finalised when the Commission next meet in November and will be made available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
The Commission’s progress was reported to the Standing Committee of the ACC last week during its annual meeting in London. The guidelines will cover five areas: pastoral support, effective response, the practice of pastoral ministry, suitability for ministry, and a culture of safety.
At the first meeting of the Commission, “a number of challenges were identified, not least different understandings of terminology associated with safe church and safeguarding, and the reality that the Provinces of the Anglican Communion are at different stages of response to the need to enhance the safety of all people within Anglican churches, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults,” the Commission’s Chair, senior Australian lawyer Garth Blake, said in a written report to the Standing Committee.
The Anglican Communion is made up of 39 autonomous independent-but-interdependent national and regional Churches. The Anglican Consultative Council cannot dictate policy to the Provinces, but Standing Committee members spoke of the need to ensure “that every Province is doing everything it feasibly can in this area”.
The guidelines will include a template protocol for disclosure of “ministry suitability information” between the Churches of the Anglican Communion, to ensure that abusers and alleged abusers are unable to avoid investigation or punishment by moving between Provinces.
Standing Commitee members described the Safe Church Commission’s work as “a matter of very, very high priority for the Communion.”
In addition to guidelines and the suitability for ministry protocol, the Safe Church Commission will also produce theological material to accompany the guidelines, which are being designed to “enhance the safety of all persons, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults, within the Provinces of the Anglican Communion,” Mr Blake said in his report.