RCI - A Pastoral Statement

Thursday, July 4, 2024

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Dear Pastors

RCI - A Pastoral Statement

In my blog on the 6th June I recommended that when the Royal Commissions Report goes public (if not before) that we all talk about it openly and honestly in our churches. I wrote: - “Let’s be honest this is going to be talked about everywhere and your people are going to be involved in conversations about it…..that is a given. If the local church doesn’t talk about it in empathetic ways that could imply that your church is not a safe place for people to disclose abuse experiences. Talking about it is also an opportunity to clearly state how you as a local church are reviewing safeguarding practices in your own context”.

Below is a ‘sample’ statement that you might find helpful to start a leadership wide conversation (if you haven’t already). Please feel free to use this as you wish. Feel free to modify, re-word it, delete or add in. It’s entirely up to you and your context. But may I urge you to prayerfully and carefully turn your attention to this moment as our entire nation comes to terms with the horrors of past sin and wrongdoing. In the midst of this darkness may our light shine brightly, genuinely and lovingly.

XYZ Church

Pastoral Statement on the Abuse in Care Report


We here at [XYZ Church] acknowledges wrongdoing in Response to Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care Report that was released earlier this week.

In light of the recent findings by the Royal Commission of Abuse Report and made public three days ago, we here at [XYZ Church] want to publicly acknowledge this morning, to our congregation, and address the wrongdoings that have been uncovered within our Christian community in New Zealand. Further, we also want our church family to know that if this report has triggered you for whatever reason and/or you have experienced any kind of abuse here or anywhere else then you are invited to share your story with a trustworthy person who we have asked to listen to your story and who is separate from our leadership team. This person is Jill Knowles (fictitious). Jill and her family have worshipped here for many years and as many of you know has a deep love for God and for people. Jill wants you to know that she will lovingly and carefully listen to your story and further will at all times treat your story with strict confidentiality unless you instruct her differently.

The report details a harrowing history of abuse that took place within both State and Faith based institutions who were entrusted with the care and guidance of vulnerable individuals. As a faith-based organisation and as a local church we are profoundly saddened and ashamed by these revelations. We acknowledge the immense pain and suffering endured by the victims and their families and the lifelong impacts this has had. Personally, I [Pastor] have taken the time to read quite a few of the survivor stories contained in the Report and I feel devastated and very sad. I know one thing for sure……. God also weeps.

Our Christian faith teaches us the values of compassion, justice, and respect for human dignity. It teaches us that children are a gift from God and therefore must be treasured and raised up in loving and safe homes and protected against any form of abuse. It is clear that we as a national Church have fallen short of these principles, and we are committed to making amends and ensuring that such failures never happen again.

Prior to the release of this Report, we had already begun reviewing and improving our policies in regard to safeguarding practices. With the release of the Report and its [number] recommendations this work will not only continue but will now take into consideration all recommendations that are relevant to faith-based organisations. This includes: -

  1. Acknowledgment: We acknowledge without reservation the horrendous harm that has been done in faith-based institutions. We feel both saddened and ashamed of this misconduct.
  2. Apology: We extend our heartfelt apology to all survivors of abuse. We recognize the courage it took for them to come forward and share their experiences. Further, we are calling on Bishops and National leaders of Church groups and denominations to provide a genuine apology in the very near future.
  3. Support for Survivors: We are establishing a dedicated support service for survivors, providing access to counselling, legal assistance, and financial compensation. We call on all churches and faith-based institutions to do the same. We are committed to walking alongside survivors on their journey towards healing. We support the call by Survivor groups for the Government to set up an independent redress system.
  4. Institutional Reforms: We are one church that will call for comprehensive reforms within our national organisation to prevent future abuse. This includes stringent vetting processes for staff and volunteers, mandatory abuse prevention training, and the establishment of an independent oversight body to monitor and enforce compliance with these measures.
  5. Cooperation with Authorities: We pledge our full cooperation with law enforcement and regulatory authorities should that be required of us. We will ensure that all historical and current allegations of abuse are thoroughly investigated and that those responsible are held accountable. We will be a voice for justice.
  6. Ongoing Transparency: We will maintain open communication with our community and the public, providing regular updates on our progress and the measures we are taking to safeguard those in our care.

We understand that trust is earned through actions, not words. As a leadership team here at [XYZ Church] we are dedicated to making the necessary changes to rebuild trust and uphold the values we profess. To that end we would like to invite all our church family to a special forum evening where we will engage in further conversation and take some time to pray for our church and the Church in NZ. The details of this gathering are:-

In closing we want you to know that we will be guided by scripture and especially Matthew 18:12-21. Quoting Isaiah and in the New Living translation, it reads: -

“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
20 He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
21 And his name will be the hope
of all the world”.

Let us pray.

About [us]
[XYZ Church] is committed to [brief description of mission and values]. We strive to serve our community with integrity, compassion, and a deep respect for the dignity of every individual.

Signed: -

[Pastor, Elders etc]

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