Synod establishes ‘Safe and Inclusive Church Commission’ to combat abuse

In a demonstration of its commitment to eradicate abuse, including sexual abuse, in the Church, Provincial Synod has adopted a ‘Resolution of Permanent Force’ which establishes a ‘Safe and Inclusive Church Commission’ to oversee the process.

The nature of the resolution gives it higher status in church law than ordinary resolutions of the Synod. It is proposed that at the next Synod the ‘Safe Church’ initiative will be entrenched as an Act in the Church’s Constitution and Canons.

The resolution was proposed by the Revd Anastasia Huntley of the Diocese of Johannesburg and seconded by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town. [Corrected ** ]

The full text of the resolution follows:

RESOLUTION OF PERMANENT FORCE: THE ANGLICAN SAFE AND INCLUSIVE CHURCH COMMISSION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA

This Synod noting that:

1.As the Anglican Church of Southern Africa we are called to be people of God and to embody the spirit of God that needs to be nurtured and brought into the fulness of life.

2.Our places of worship and learning have for many caused untold pain, hurt and harm, that has left individuals and families deeply scarred.

3.Ministry is a unique and sacred trust that has been given to us and we need to seek ways to nurture and protect this trust in the way we discern, train, educate and select our ministers and exercise our accountability and discipline as a church.

4.The Pastoral Standards of Ministry, included as Act XV in our Canons has set the foundation for this work, and will continually be expanded upon.

5.The call of the Safe Church Commission of the Anglican Consultative Council (the “ACC Commission”) is to adopt its Charter and implement its Protocol, as far as practicable in accordance with its guidelines;

6. ACSA seeks to establish its own Safe Church Commission to oversee this work, which will include the following:

6.1 to develop recommendations for enhancement of the safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults in the Church,

6.2 to establish a network of those with safe church/safeguarding responsibilities in the Province and;

6.3 to liaise regularly with the ACC Commission in relation to its work.

Resolves to:

  1. Commit itself to a programme of action in which it seeks to improve, through an iterative process, that will be shaped and informed by experience and the implementation of these principles.
  1. To draft an Act consistent with the Constitution and Canons of ACSA as well as the principles, procedures, safe-guards, resolutions of the Anglican Consultative Council and guidelines referred to below:

2.1. the witness of Scripture to God’s love for all members of the human family and the priority given in Jesus’ ministry to children and the vulnerable of society;

2.2 the resolution of the Lambeth Conference in 1998 that each member Church represented make an intentional effort to work toward eliminating abuses affecting women and children (Resolution 1.3);

2.3 the commitment of ACC-13 in 2005 to the highest standards of care for all young and vulnerable people, seeking to ensure their protection (ACC Resolution 13.50);

2.4 the testimony of the Lambeth Conference in 2008 to the many forms of abuse of power within society as well as the church from which women and children suffer disproportionately, and the challenge to reclaim the gospel truth of the dignity of the human person and to exercise power in ways that would always be life giving (Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections, paragraphs 47 to 50);

2.5 the call of ACC-14 in 2009 to member Churches to take appropriate steps to assist the healing of indigenous families, including the protection of women and children from violence and human trafficking (ACC Resolutions 14.19 and 14.33);

2.6 the statement of the Primates in 2011 that our churches must accept responsibility for our own part in perpetuating oppressive attitudes towards women, and in penitence and faith we must move forward in such a way that our churches truly become a living witness to our belief that both women and men are made in the image of God (Letter to the Churches of the Anglican Communion): and

2.7 committed itself to promoting the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare and safety of all people, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults, within the member churches of the Anglican Communion, and to this end called upon all member churches to adopt and implement the charter. This charter has been adapted for our own situation and this was formally adopted by the Synod of Bishops in February 2019, and reads as follows:

  1. That the Commission will draft the intended Act in conjunction with the Anglican Canon Law Council.

4. The intended Act will incorporate the Charter for Safe and Inclusive Church passed by the Synod of Bishops in February 2019.

5. To establish a commission known as the Anglican Safe and Inclusive Church Commission of Southern Africa, whose members will be appointed by the Metropolitan after consultation with the Synod of Bishops.

6. That the constitution of the aforementioned Commission, responsible for the implementation of the Charter, will include the following principles.

6.1 The Commission is an integral part of the Church, functioning under and reporting to the Metropolitan and Synod of Bishops (“SoB”). The Commission will table its report from time to time at Provincial Synod, PSC and the Provincial Trusts Board (“PTB”)

6.2 The Metropolitan, after consultation with the SoB will appoint a liaison bishop for the commission

6.3 The purpose and objectives of the Commission are:

  1. To implement the ACSA Charter and the ACC Protocols as its guidelines, to the extent practicable;
  2. To develop for the Province, its dioceses, organisations and institutions, the framework for the implementation of The Charter, its protocols and guidelines;
  3. To serve as the advisory body for the Province, dioceses, organisations and institutions regarding the implementation of the Charter, its protocols and guidelines, and to identify and develop safeguarding measures;
  4. To maintain ACSA’s membership of the ACC’s Safe Church Commission and the Metropolitan to appoint a representative to liaise with that Commission regarding this work;
  5. To develop resources, do training and liaise in all matters relating to The Charter;
  6. To maintain a register of complaints and convictions (both Church and secular);
  7. To develop and implement a management system for records and maintenance of screening clearances;
  8. To provide a framework for dealing with adverse findings on clearance requirements for ministers;
  9. To provide (or advise on, as appropriate) support for those involved in hearings conducted under The Charter; and
  10. To advocate its work throughout the Province.

6.3 The Commission’s governing body will be comprised of:

6.3.1.1 the Liaison Bishop, appointed by the Metropolitan as aforesaid;

6.3.1.2 two legal lay persons, being Provincial or Diocesan Chancellors or Registrars, appointed by the Metropolitan in consultation with the Metropolitan’s Executive and with input as needed for from the Anglican Canon Law Council of Southern Africa (“ACLCSA”) and the Council;

6.3.1.3 two Bishops, Suffragan or Diocesan, appointed by the SoB;

6.3.1.4 two psychologists or other specialists involved in counselling, spiritual guidance or support in cases of abuse, appointed by the Metropolitan from a list of recommended people prepared by the Council (save only that in the first instance the list may be that prepared by the steering committee involved in the preparation and presentation to Provincial Synod of this Act); and

6.3.1.5 the Provincial Treasurer, or alternatively the Provincial Executive Officer.

  1. The terms of office of the Commission’s members will be:
    1. the Liaison Bishop, at the discretion of the Metropolitan;
    2. the two legal lay persons, for periods of three years, which may be renewed for no more than two terms;
    3. the two Bishops, at the discretion of the SoB;
    4. the two psychologists or other specialists, for periods of three years, which may be renewed for no more than two terms; and
    5. the Provincial Treasurer or Provincial Executive Officer (as the case may be), for as long as their appointments endure.
  1. The Commission shall elect its own Chair, Deputy Chair and Secretary at its first meeting each calendar year, and thereafter during a calendar year if and when such an office becomes vacant. The quorum for Council meetings shall be the majority in number of the Council members at the time including the Chair or Deputy Chair.
  2. The Commission shall have no financial powers independently of the Church. All income and expenditure shall be duly authorized, held and paid by the Church, through the office of the Provincial Treasurer. The Council will prepare an annual budget for a succeeding year by the end of March in the preceding year, for consideration and approval by the Provincial Trusts Board, which will cover the Commission’s authorized requirements from the said Board’s own resources, save that where there will be a shortfall in such resources, the same shall be applied for, to the Provincial Treasurer, who may approve such an application.
  3. The Commission shall make such arrangements for meetings and conferences as it shall deem necessary; for publications and consultations as may be required; for research and advice as may be needed; for related travel, accommodation, office and other assistance that may be called for. All such expenses must be costed, included and cleared by the Provincial Treasurer on behalf of the Provincial Trusts Board.
  4. The Commission may make such rules of procedure and byelaws, and establish such sub-committees, as it considers necessary and appropriate for the furtherance of its work.

[** The name of the seconder has been corrected since this item was first posted]

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