Vicar to shave head for charity as a lament over church abuse

21 April 2021, Matt Cooper, Thirtyone:eight

Norfolk vicar Rev Adrian Miller will shave his head as a ‘lament’ over recent high profile cases of church abuse, and to raise funds to develop healthier church communities and support survivors of abuse by church leaders.

Father of two Rev Miller, of Mulbarton Church, Norwich Diocese, will shave his head on Friday 30th April 2021 as a “symbolic representative lament, a personal statement of intent, and a way to do something to raise funds to help on the frontline.”

All funds raised by the challenge, which will be match-funded up to £1,000 by a generous parishioner, will go to the independent Christian safeguarding charity Thirtyone:eight who support churches, charities and faith-based organisations to create safer places for all.

Rev Miller, who was ordained in 2006, said: “One of the first people I told about my crazy head shaving idea was a friend whose life has been blighted by the poor behaviour of church leaders. I asked how she would feel if some of those people were to shave their heads as a sign that they were sorry for the ways they had exploited their position and privilege to her detriment. She said it would be a powerful image, after years of feeling invisible.

To help raise vital funds for the charity, Rev Miller has set up an online sponsorship page with a target of £1,000, which could fund 21 calls answered by the charity’s Safeguarding Helpline to people urgently needing safeguarding advice and support. However, Rev Miller says that for him the challenge is more than just about raising money, it’s also about responding to the issues in a visible and positive way.

“Shaving the head is a biblical symbol of lament and repentance” says Miller. “For me it also says something about symbolically shaving off the trappings of the toxicity around male privilege and some of the unhelpful cultural trappings that have been a factor in some recent high profile cases – such as Ravi Zacharias, Jean Vanier and several others.” 

Peter Wright, Head of Fundraising and Communications at the charity, said: “We are so grateful that Rev Miller has chosen Thirtyone:eight to benefit from his fundraising challenge. We have been incredibly moved and inspired by the way he has decided to respond to the terrible cases of abuse he has seen in this profoundly symbolic and public way. As a charity that receives no government funding, we are extremely grateful for all the donations we receive that enable us to offer our vital services which help to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse.

Rev Miller, who hopes to complete his challenge before the wedding season gets underway in earnest’, said: I want to listen, lament, repent and see churches become ever healthier and safer communities. The way church culture, power, opportunity, celebrity and privilege operate has seen change for the good in recent years, but there is further to go. 

To donate to Rev Miller's challenge please go to his GoFundMe page at: www.gofundme.com/sponsored-head-shave

For others ways to get involved please consider signing our Safer Places Pledge.

 

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