Sunday, 7 October 2007

Clergy Safety

Members of the clergy are being advised to take off their dog collars when they are on their own, to reduce the risk of being attacked. Apparently vicars are attacked more often than professions such as GP's or Probation officers.

Spokesman Nick Tolson of National Churchwatch, an organisation which provides personal safety advice for churches and churchworkers says, "When they are on their own and when they are off duty for example when they are doing shopping in Tesco on their own there is no need for them to wear their dog collars."

The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, welcomed the move on Tuesday. “National Churchwatch have made a valuable contribution to the continued debate about clergy safety. Whilst not all their suggestions will be acceptable to individual clergy, they are right to point out that we can all take active steps to become more security conscious. Active security systems are valuable, and individual interviews best take place when others are around.”
But risk was integral to ministry, the Bishop said. “Many parish priests want to be available, want to be seen around the parish, and would probably oppose suggestions to make the vicarage more anonymous.”

I don't know if Mr Tolson includes the wearing of Salvation Army uniform in his guidelines but I imagine he would. I appreciate the need for sensible security but I have to say I for one will not be taking all his advice. I am more likely to wear my uniform doing my shopping in Tesco's when I am supposedly "off duty" than to a meeting with other Christians who know who I am and who already know I am a Salvationist who is available to share the love of Christ with them. There are already too many anonymous Christians and the Church already too inaccessible.
God bless


grumpy said...

From Grumpy
Amen to that Carol,the wearing of our uniform is a witness to our faith and is recognisable any where in the world and while I am not so active as other members of our corp I am very very proud every time I place mine on and will continue to do so with pride.

Open up their eyes O Lord as the people see the uniform let them see you also.
God Bless you all


Brian (getting less and less Grumpy each day)

petros said...

Hallelujah Brian ..... especially to the bracketed bit !!!! :o)

Howard said...

Oh dear....

Well, in 10 years of ministry I have had to rescue people from paramilitaries; been in front of knifes, snooker cues, fists, chairs and heaven knows what else; been face to face with people who had nothing else to lose and every single time I thanked God for my Salvation Army Uniform.

Likewise, in Tescos (or wherever) it has opened up conversations, identified me, made me accountable and even helped me in my discipleship by being a constant reminder of the promises I have made. To be honest, it also got me off a speeding ticket which sounds a little hypocritical but hey, despite the uniform I'm still human!

I think the increase in attacks of clergy says something more about how society views the church than anything else.

Shall we retreat? I can see the early day Salvationists turning in their grave at the thought!