Children are to be ‘valued, respected, listened to and kept safe from harm’.
That’s the principle behind Synod’s call to the LCA to commit further resources towards protecting children in our church.
Delegates unanimously supported the proposal put forward by the General Church Council and LCA Royal Commission Working Group.
The proposal reaffirmed ‘that our children are a precious gift from God. They are to be nourished and nurtured in their spiritual life within the Lutheran Church of Australia and their needs must be considered by all boards, councils and committees prior to the making of decisions. Children are to be cared for and protected from all physical, psychological, sexual and spiritual abuse while engaging in all church activities’.
‘The General Convention of Synod authorises General Church Council to commit resources to continue to develop effective procedures, and education and training programs to ensure that children are valued, respected, listened to and kept safe from harm.’
Supporters of the proposal said the church had ‘a special responsibility to care for all children and see that no harm comes to them’.
‘How we treat children is a test of the genuineness of our faith. God calls us to make every effort to protect children and treat them with the love, care, and respect that is rightfully theirs’, they said.
‘The LCA has demonstrated it is serious about the protection of children by requiring people who engage with children maintain a current Working with Children check, and by providing Child Safe training to congregations.
‘The appalling revelations of the abuse of children in the public hearings and reports of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have been a forceful reminder that the church is also accountable to the world in how it treats children under its care.’
Supporters said many people in the community had lost trust in institutions which have traditionally cared for children or provided services to children, including churches.
‘The community expects that organisations will report allegations of abuse to the state’s child protection agency and police department and will care for and support victims of abuse with kindness and compassion’, they said.
‘In this environment of distrust of all churches, and in a manner consistent with loving others as God first loved us, it is timely for the LCA to reaffirm its commitment to the health, wellbeing and safety of our children and to support activities which will ensure the safety of our children and will assist in the rebuilding of community trust in all the churches.’
The LCA will also implement any recommendations made by the Royal Commission.
In the meantime, the church encourages all agencies and individuals to ensure they are providing a safe environment for children in their care by implementing the church’s child-protection-related policies and procedures.