Thought For The Week 7 February 2021
Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse.
The government is currently conducting a Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse in government institutions and faith-based care. The scope of this inquiry is very broad and it includes all allegations and complaints that have been made to churches about abuse that might have taken place in situations where children, young people and vulnerable adults have been in the care of churches. The inquiry does not include grievances between competent adults.
It is dreadful to think that such abuse may have happened in our churches. However, the sad fact is that far, far too many people have suffered abuse at the hands of those they should have been able to trust. It would be naive to think that the Presbyterian Church is an exception to this.
As a church we are required to disclose any complaints of abuse that have been made within our church communities in the past. A small team including the Ministers, the Parish Clerk, and the Pastoral Elder have been interviewing former ministers and parish clerks to discover any situations in our past that might be pertinent to the inquiry. These recollections will be used as a guide by the Presbyterian Archives Centre in Dunedin who will be searching minutes and records going back to 1950 for any sign of complaints of abuse. Any records of abuse from our parishes will then be sent via Presbytery to the Royal Commission.
If you have any recollection of such complaints in our Timaru Parishes, then please contact Brent, Rory Lois or Judith. We will be discreet with any information you provide. We will also be scrupulously honest and thorough in our investigations. Our first duty is to support and to protect from further harm the victims of abuse.
While the current inquiry relates to previously made allegations of abuse, we are very aware that this process may dredge up painful memories. Perhaps you, or someone you know, have information that has not been shared before. Please come forward. You will be treated with dignity, care and compassion. No-one should have to suffer in silence when they have already suffered at the hands of somebody they trusted.
Once again, this is a very sensitive matter, so please contact one of the Ministers, the Parish Clerk, or the Pastoral Elder if you have anything to contribute. The deadline for our Parish’s response to the Royal Commission is Friday 12 February. There is no deadline for coming forward if you have suffered abuse in the past.