Resource launched to help churches support survivors of abuse

The Church of England and the Methodist Church arepublishing a special resource this week designed to help churchessupport people who have suffered from the trauma of abuse, whereverthis has occurred.

The resource provides a selection of prayers for use by, for andwith survivors, including words calling for God's help in shaping aChurch that supports "the possibility of healing and a willingnessto stand as pain bearers for one another."

The card contains contact details for a range of organisationsoffering help for those who are concerned about or affected by pastor current issues involving the protection of children orvulnerable adults. Many of these organisations assisted in thedevelopment of the card.

As well as providing details for such 'helplines' and mutualsupport groups, the card also seeks to raise awareness about theimportance of implementing Church policies at a local leveldesigned to help safeguard children and vulnerable adults.

Some 80,000 copies of the pocket-sized card are being distributedto clergy and churches across the two denominations and throughsurvivor support groups, in addition to copies placed inside thisweek's editions of the Church Times, Methodist Recorder and Churchof England Newspaper.

The Revd Pearl Luxon, Safeguarding Adviser for the MethodistChurch and the Church of England, comments: "This resource is asmall contribution to helping the Church in its understanding ofthe broad and deep impact of different forms of abuse. Prayer isthe Christian starting point for dealing with all challengingissues, but beyond that, churches are called to practical action tosupport all those who are affected by abuse, not least by being asafe space in itself. I hope churches will get hold of these cards,and use the material for prayer and reflection as well as topromote the work of various church and voluntary sectoragencies."

Copies of the resource are available at £1.95 per 10 copies bycontacting the Methodist Publishing House (mph) on 01733 325002(email sales@mph.org.uk), quoting 'Survivors of abuse prayercard'.

A website is being developed to provide further liturgicalmaterial reflecting on the needs of those who are survivors andalso for others with acute pastoral need. The pages will beavailable from May at www.methodist.org.uk/lightindarkness.

The card was one of the practical outcomes of an event held lastNovember at Methodist Church House, organised by the Church ofEngland's 'Time for Action' consultation group that meets regularlyto discuss how the Church can better respond to the pastoral andspiritual needs of survivors.

In her concluding remarks during the conference, Alison Webster,Social Responsibility Adviser for the Diocese of Oxford, suggestedthat those involved in the life of the Church should "try and seethe world from perspectives that are not limited by personalexperience. Asking big questions of the Church takes courage, andall of us need to try and reflect on the experience of those whohave suffered at the hands of abusers, whether or not that occurredwithin a church context."