One Sunday each year (the fourth Sunday in September) has been designated Abuse Awareness Sunday. I wonder how many people in the CRC know that. Each year resources are gathered and created (www.crcna.org/safechurch/resources-abuse-awareness). Information is sent to pastors and also to over 350 volunteer safe church team members across the USA and Canada. Though we never expect a huge response, the annual email goes out, “tell us what you did for Abuse Awareness Sunday”. Here are some responses from 2014:
- Our pastor preached an excellent sermon on Christ-like, respectful relationships shown in contrast to bullying. We used the bulletin insert about bullying.
- The focus of the sermon was on the domestic abuse of Joseph in his father's household, sexual and emotional abuse by Potiphar's wife, and his journey as an abuse survivor through trust in God. We used the bulletin insert about domestic violence. We also presented A Stained Glass Story of Domestic Abuse from the RAVE website (www.theraveproject.com ).
- We used the bulletin insert about pornography. In the evening service we heard a powerful testimony related to the topic.
- As a safe church team member, I had the opportunity to share with the congregation what I do and how it affects the congregation.
- Besides having the bulletin insert, we conducted safe church training, which is mandatory for anyone working with youth in our church.
- Domestic violence bulletin inserts were put in every mailbox and resources from the local shelter were in the fellowship area. Intercessory prayers included domestic violence.
- We distributed bulletin inserts. I made reference to the scars of abuse that many of us bring into worship and noted that today was a special Sunday to honestly bring those to God as a community - leading into the opening song, "Gather Us In - the lost and the broken…”
- We had an offering and special prayers for Safe Church Ministry.
Thanks to all who participated. What happened in your congregation? What might be a next step for you?