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Safeguarding Sunday - One Church, One Day, One message: Protecting Vulnerable People. Together.

For the first time, church leaders and Safeguarding Leads from 24 Church denominations and groups across the UK have come together ahead of Safeguarding Sunday to pray that God would help the Church become a safer place for all.

A short film, which has been coordinated and funded by the Independent Christian Safeguarding Charity Thirtyone:eight, will be played in thousands of churches up and down the country on Sunday 20th November when they come together to mark Safeguarding Sunday and share what they are doing to make their places of worship safer.

Safeguarding Sunday is an annual awareness-raising campaign coordinated by the charity Thirtyone:eight to coincide with National Safeguarding Adults Week (21–27 November) and National Safeguarding Week in Wales (16 – 20 November). It gives churches an opportunity to show their communities that they take their safeguarding responsibility seriously, to explore together as a church what safer places look like and the theology behind safeguarding and how it fits with God’s heart for justice, and to thank all those working behind the scenes to make our churches safer places. The theme of the campaign this year is: “One Church, One Day, One message: Protecting Vulnerable People. Together.”

Amid increasing revelations of abuse taking place in church settings, and in the wake of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in England and Wales which is due to publish its final report next week, keeping vulnerable people safe is more important than ever.

Peter Wright, Head of Communications and Membership at Thirtyone:eight who has been working with the Christian Forum for Safeguarding and a range of other organisations on the campaign said,

“Issues of harm and abuse are sadly not confined to one single church denomination or group but are challenges that all expressions and traditions of Church are facing. In coming together in humility, to listen and learn from victims and survivors and from each other, there is hope that the church can become a safer place for all. Seeing these 24 church groups come together, putting aside what divides and separates, to unite in prayer as part of Safeguarding Sunday is a hugely significant step on that journey. We want to thank all those who have participated and supported with this important initiative, and we would encourage people to get their church involved.”

The 24 denominations and groups featured in the prayer include: Additional Needs Alliance, Antiochian Orthodox Church, The Apostolic Church, Assemblies of God GB, Baptist Union of Great Britain, The Catholic Church, Church in Wales, Church of England, City on a Hill Edinburgh, The Congregational Federation, Count Everyone In, Elim Pentecostal Church, Interdenominational Protection Panel (Wales), The Methodist Church, Moravian Church, National Church Leaders Forum, New Wine, New Testament Church of God, Newfrontiers, Pioneer, Thirtyone:eight, United Reformed Church, Vineyard Churches UK & Ireland, and Youth for Christ Scotland.

Churches can download the video and all the Safeguarding Sunday resources and register to take part for free at thirtyoneeight.org/safeguardingsunday

The campaign draws on key passages from the Bible, including God’s call to protect the weak (James 1:27), speak up for those whose voices are not heard (Proverbs 31:8), follow Jesus’ example of servant leadership (Luke 22:26), and purse God’s heart for justice for all (Micah 6:8).

Resources include, prayers, worship ideas, animations, liturgy and a 10-minute reflection recorded especially for Safeguarding Sunday 2022 by Julie Conalty, Bishop of Birkenhead and Deputy Lead Bishop for Safeguarding in the Church of England. Bishop Julie has contributed to the campaign alongside several other church leaders including: the Archbishop of Wales Andy John, Bishop Paul Mason, Bishop Vivienne Faull, Paul Harcourt, Stuart Keir, Olivia Amartey, and Mark Landreth Smith.

Justin Humphreys, Joint Chief Executive at Thirtyone:eight, said:

“While we can’t and shouldn’t ignore abuse that has happened within the Church, of which there has been plenty of media coverage, Safeguarding Sunday is a chance to shine a light on what so many churches are doing to make places of worship safer. We mustn’t forget that protecting vulnerable people is at the heart of the Christian message of justice and hope. I want to thank everyone who is doing this vital ongoing work and taking part in this year’s campaign to raise awareness of the importance of safeguarding in their church and community. We mustn’t become complacent and as the end of the Safeguarding Sunday Prayer video, says ‘Now we have prayed, may we have the courage to take action.’”

For more information and to register for free go to  thirtyoneeight.org/SafeguardingSunday

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