Today (Sunday 11th March 2018, Lent 4), following the recently released final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse, we have been asked by the Assembly of the Uniting Church to express our deep concern for the victims of sexual abuse.

In faith, we lament institutionalised sexual abuse and express our deep sorrow for the wrong that was done and the injustice and suffering this has caused.

Survivors have recounted experiences of humiliation, assault on their dignity and self-esteem; they have experienced fear, anxiety, isolation and abandonment. We pray that all survivors may know the transforming and surpassing power of God’s love.

This sound cloud file begins with the Introduction offered by Rev. Ian Ferguson and excerpts of the Pastoral Statement prepared by President Stuart McMillan.  It continues with the Lament offered by Kirsty Bennett and Daniel Broadstock and Commitment offered by Ian.  The recording concludes with the Prayers of the People offered by Kirsty Bennett.

Ian’s sermon ‘The Crisis of the Cosmos‘ juxtaposes John 3:14-21 and the movie ‘Spotlight‘.

Pastoral Statement

Rev Ian Ferguson read excerpts from a Pastoral Statement by Stuart McMillan the President of the Uniting Church’s National Assembly. The full statement is available online.

At this time, I would again like to sincerely apologise to all children in our care who suffered sexual abuse in our Church, whether it happened after our foundation in 1977 or before that, in our predecessor Churches.

We are, and I am, deeply sorry that we did not protect and care in accordance with our Christian values for those children. I again want to acknowledge the impact that it’s had in the lives of those young people and their families, and to say that I am truly sorry.

We must never forget the courage of survivors who’ve come forward to tell their stories in public and in private. The Uniting Church will continue to work constructively with Government and other stakeholders for a truly national redress scheme, as the most equitable way to support survivors wherever they might be.

Our Church’s commitment is that we will seek to make amends and to strive to ensure others will not suffer as they have. Our prayers and a determined focus will be required if we are to build a robust culture of child safety. With the collaboration of Synods and many others across our Church, we have begun applying the learnings of the Royal Commission through a National Child Safe Policy Framework…

In the years ahead, may God grant us the strength and wisdom to honour our pledge to be the safest church we can be for children, and for all people in our midst.


Let us join in a time of prayerful lament.

In the name of the God who so loves the world,
We lament this national tragedy of child sexual abuse.
prayer bowl is rung

We lament our failure to protect innocent children
in our Australian orphanages, children’s homes,
missions and foster care, churches, schools and charities.
prayer bowl is rung

We lament our terrible history of sexual abuse
and will devote ourselves to restoration for all forms of abuse and neglect.
prayer bowl is rung

God of endless love,
Hear our cries as we agonize
over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers,
soothe restless hearts with hope,
steady shaken spirits with faith.

Show us the way to justice and wholeness,
enlightened by truth and enfolded in your mercy.
Heal your people’s wounds
and transform our brokenness
so that we may act with justice
and all may find peace in you.

Lamb of God, Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan

  1. O Christ, Lamb of God,
    sharing our weakness, our weakness,
    have mercy, have mercy
  2. O Christ, Lamb of God,
    bearing our failings, our failings,
    have mercy, have mercy.
  3. O Christ, Lamb of God,
    sharing our story, our story,
    Oh grant us, grant us your peace.
    Oh grant us, grant us your peace. Amen


Over the past few years, a lot of work has been done in this congregation to establish a culture of safety and safe church procedures. This is challenging, ongoing work and I invite you now to join in committing ourselves to continue it so that God’s forgiving healing grace may be embodied in this place.

We are called to new things in the Spirit,
and we pledge to create and live out a safe Church
for all people, and especially those most vulnerable.
God, open our hearts and guide our actions

We commit to an ethic of care that will help us to recognise
and respond to inappropriate behaviours towards children
before any child is harmed.
God, open our hearts and guide our actions

We commit ourselves to continue to understand
and to implement the lessons of the Royal Commission
and remain open to the insights of survivors and professionals.
God, open our hearts and guide our actions

We pledge to continuously seek improvement;
to regularly renew our policies and practices in all parts of our Church,
to ensure that they reflect the best practice for care,
service and support of children.
God, open our hearts and guide our actions

We pledge to ensure the priorities of safe church
are integrated into our organisational culture and practices.
This is our commitment to all survivors of sexual abuse
and to all people entrusted to our care.
God, open our hearts and guide our actions



We invite you now into a time of prayerful action.

As we sing lamenting the human frailty that we all share, if you wish, come forward, sprinkle salt in this bowl of water as a symbol of God’s tears and ours.

Take a stone, hold it in prayer and place it on the table as a sign of our commitment to the hard and yet ultimately nourishing and joyous work of building a community of love where all may be safe.

Why do we listen and fail to hear?
Why do we see and not perceive?
We have turned away and our heart has grown dull
Heal us, help us to grieve
Heal us, help us to grieve

Ooh… Ooh… Oh… Oh…
Ooh… Ooh… Oh… Oh…

Why do we listen and fail to hear?
Why do we see and not perceive?
We have turned away and our heart has grown dull
Heal us, help us believe
Heal us, help us believe

Ooh… Ooh… Oh… Oh…
Ooh… Ooh… Oh… Oh…

Shawn Whelan, 2013, written for the BUC Boundless Plains series, used with permission.