Reflection by Rev’d Stewart

Last Friday the former Dean of the Anglican Cathedral in Newcastle was convicted of abusing a 15 year old boy in 1991. That boy was & is a good friend of mine. I was in Newcastle last week to spend the evening with him and his closest friends & family. On Saturday morning I posted similar words to those below on social media but felt it important to share it more broadly in this way.

These are difficult words for me to make public. This is not about me & I neither desire nor deserve any accolades or recognition. I am privileged to be a very small part of an incredible journey that reached an important milestone last Friday. I am, however, a church leader & proud to be, so these words that follow are important for me to say.

I am in absolute awe of a great mate who I, at times, considered a cheeky little brother, who has shown unimaginable strength & maturity to bring justice to light.

I continue to struggle to comprehend how the church I feel so strongly called to serve has failed him & many others so badly.

I cannot escape feelings of guilt that somehow I could have or should have been able to protect him from this happening.

I am feeling the most humbled I have ever felt in my life with the realisation that he trusted me enough to pick up the phone to be the first person to hear the words “something happened to me”. I will never forget this conversation and the tone of his voice. It is seared into my memory. I am dumbfounded how other clergy have said they do not remember similar conversations with other survivors.

I recognise how incredibly brave he was to take the next steps I advised him to take & to share his full story.

I am amazed that he does not blame the church & that he is still able to recognise great good within the body of Christ. This is amazing grace!

I am in awe of his awesome wife who stood beside him, demonstrating unconditional love.

I am thankful for his family & great mates who stood with him throughout this difficult journey, many of whom gave evidence.

I am genuinely relieved I was not required to give evidence but somewhat baffled how I received my subpoena more than a week after the trial finished.

My friend is not a trouble maker, my friend has nothing to gain, no point to prove, my friend is one of the most outstanding human beings I know. I am a better person because he is still my friend.

I was honoured to buy him a beer last Friday night.

To my friend: I believe you, I love you, I am always there for you.

To my church: I will to continue to lead & I pray I will be a better leader because of this.

To those outside the church: I understand your anger, confusion & hurt. What happened to my friend & countless others is unfathomable. I am committed to play whatever role I can to bring justice to light. If something has happened to you or someone you love, there are people who will listen.



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