The Anglican Communion Safe Church Network was formally recognised by the Anglican Consultative Council in 2012. The Network is organised by a Steering Committee comprising representatives from a number of Anglican Provinces.
The background to the formation of the Network has been the tragic betrayal of trust by some clergy and church workers in Provinces and churches across the Communion, who have abused children and adults for whom they have had pastoral responsibility.
During its meeting in Nottingham in 2005 (ACC-13), the Anglican Consultative Council committed itself to the highest standards of care for all young and vulnerable people, seeking to ensure their protection, safety and well-being, and requesting similar pledges of commitment from all the Provinces and churches of the Communion.
In July 2008 an international Anglican conference 'Creating a Safer Church' focussing on the abuse of children and adults in faith-community settings was held near London, England.
The bishops of the Anglican Communion gathered at the Lambeth Conference in July 2008 considered the abusive use of power within society as well as in the church, and affirmed the need for special care to be taken so that power would always be life-giving.
An Anglican Communion Safe Church Consultation emerged and was recognised by the Standing Committee in 2009. Participants in the Consultation developed a ‘Charter for the Safety of People within the Churches of the Anglican Communion‘. This was reviewed by the Anglican Consultative Council during its meeting in Auckland in October 2012 and commended for adoption and implementation by the Churches of the Communion (see ACC resolution 15.09 ). During the same meeting, the Consultation was formally recognised as a Network of the Anglican Communion.
Participants in the Anglican Communion Safe Church Network communicate by email and through regular teleconferences. We recognise that our churches, in order to be safe places, require a mix of sound policy, education and training, as well as specific codes of conduct combined with effective pastoral care of those who have been abused. There also needs to be accountability on the part of the abusers. All of this needs to be done in the framework of understanding evil and also God's grace.
The Network continues to work towards a comprehensive strategy for responding to, and preventing abuse. This includes working with Anglican Provinces to encourage the implementation of effective policies and procedures to protect the most vulnerable, especially women and children. We look forward to the churches of the Anglican Communion becoming known for best practice in this area.
We believe that every person has a value and dignity which comes directly from their creation in God’s own image.
We are conscious that physical, emotional and spiritual harm has been suffered by people, and especially women and children, in churches throughout the Anglican Communion by the abuse, misconduct and the misuse of power by clergy and church employees and volunteers.
We are committed to the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare and safety of all people involved in churches throughout the Anglican Communion through the elimination of abuse, misconduct and the misuse of power by clergy and church employees and volunteers.
We recognize that the redemption and the possibility of forgiveness and healing that are central to the gospel of Christ requires the Church to offer pastoral support to the abused as well as to ensure the pastoral accountability of those clergy and church employees and volunteers who have abused.
The mission of the Anglican Communion Safe Church Network is:
This mission is to be accomplished through: