Vicar's head shave to help charity developing healthier church communities
- Credit: SUPPLIED
Developing healthier church communities and supporting survivors of abuse by church leaders is at the heart of a Norfolk vicar's fundraising efforts.
Adrian Miller, 46, of Mulbarton, is the rector at Mulbarton Church and has shaved his head as part of a challenge to raise money for the independent Christian safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight.
The charity supports churches, charities, and faith-based organisations in order to create safer places for all. Rev Miller’s efforts will also be match-funded up to £1,000 by a generous parishioner.
The father-of-two shaved his head on Friday, April 30, as a “symbolic representative lament, a personal statement of intent, and a way to do something to raise funds to help on the frontline”.
Rev Miller, who was ordained in 2006, added: “One of the first people I told about my crazy head-shaving idea was a friend whose life has been blighted by the poor behaviour of church leaders.
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"I asked how she would feel if some of those people were to shave their heads as a sign that they were sorry for the ways they had exploited their position and privilege to her detriment. She said it would be a powerful image, after years of feeling invisible.”
He added that for him the challenge was more than just about raising money, but also about responding to the issues in a visible and positive way.
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“Shaving the head is a biblical symbol of lament and repentance. For me, it also says something about symbolically shaving off the trappings of the toxicity around male privilege and some of the unhelpful cultural trappings that have been a factor in some recent high-profile cases.”
To help raise vital funds for the charity, Rev Miller has set up an online sponsorship page with a target of £1,000, which could fund 21 calls answered by the charity’s safeguarding helpline to people urgently needing safeguarding advice and support.
He hoped to complete his challenge "before the wedding season gets underway in earnest", adding: “I want to listen, lament, repent and see churches become ever healthier and safer communities.
"The way church culture, power, opportunity, celebrity, and privilege operate has seen change for the good in recent years, but there is further to go.”
He described the charity as "a shining example of where the church is doing well”.
He also posted a video of the full head shave on the Mulbarton Group of Churches Facebook page, where it was watched live by more than 100 people.
Peter Wright, head of fundraising and communications at Thirtyone:eight, said: “We are so grateful that Rev Miller has chosen Thirtyone:eight to benefit from his fundraising challenge.
"We have been incredibly moved and inspired by the way he has decided to respond to the terrible cases of abuse he has seen in this profoundly symbolic and public way.
“As a charity that receives no government funding, we are extremely grateful for all the donations we receive that enable us to offer our vital services which help to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse.”
So far, Rev Miller has raised more than £1,300.
He added: "I do feel pleased to have completed the head shave and relieved that the livestream Facebook worked. I still feel sad that there have been these failings in the church, but encouraged that so many people have been moved to offer support and encouragement.
"I'm not someone who does this sort of thing generally - I just felt so strongly that I needed to do something in response to news that has broken this year.
"It was very much of the moment in terms of what is happening in the church and in the wider public consciousness, and it is also something that is very much of the moment for me personally in my own journey."
- Thirtyoneeight is an independent Christian charity helping to protect vulnerable people from abuse, while providing training, consultancy, disclosures, and a 24-hour helpline on 0303 003 1111. There are also resources online. For others ways to get involved please visit the Safer Places Pledge.
- To donate to Rev Miller's head shave challenge, visit the GoFundMe page.