Does your classis have a Safe Church Coordinator or Team Leader? You can see all of our current classis representatives in this document - we are so thankful for their work!
What is a Safe Church Classis Coordinator?
A Safe Church Coordinator is a valuable part of the classis structure, equipping local churches in abuse awareness, prevention and response. Safe church ministry helps build communities where the value of each person is honored; where people can worship and grow free from abuse; and where abuse has occurred, the response is compassion and justice that foster healing. We are excited to see more classes begin to consider greater coordination to resource our CRC congregations for the purpose of ending abuse and creating safer congregations and communities for everyone. Our goal is to see every classis have a safe church coordinator.
Since 1994, when the Office of Abuse Prevention was formed (now Safe Church Ministry), there has always been an emphasis on classis teams being trained and equipped to serve the churches in the classis and to do the primary work of abuse prevention, awareness and response. This of course looks different in every classis, each group of churches has their own unique callings and challenges.
In conversations with classis leaders, we have noticed a recurring theme: A thriving classis safe church team has an amazing, passionate leader and does good work among all the churches in the classis. Then the leader moves away, or steps down for various reasons, and the team struggles and falls apart with no one stepping up into that leadership role.
At Synod 2018, we lamented “the ongoing failure of some classes and congregations to implement safe church practices" and all classes and congregations are encouraged "to learn from the best practices of others and to utilize the resources available through Safe Church Ministry” (Acts of Synod 2018; p. 476).
A Way Forward:
We have high hopes that together, as a whole denomination, we can take solid steps forward as we meet the goal of seeing active safe church teams in each classis. To do this, Safe Church Ministry is encouraging each classis to have a Safe Church Coordinator, to provide leadership and organization for abuse awareness, prevention and response in the classis. Having a designated position within the classis structure, whether paid or unpaid, provides greater sustainability and accountability. It can keep critical safe church issues from “falling off the back burner.” Attached you will find a PDF that shares a more specific vision of the Safe Church Coordinator as well as a possible job description.
Grants for Coordinators:
In addition, the office of Safe Church Ministry is offering “seed money” (up to $1,500), that can be used to pay an annual stipend to the coordinator for the first year, should the classis wish to establish this position with an annual stipend. The expectation is that the classis would maintain the stipend for the position in the years to follow. Contact Safe Church to find out more, including how to apply for these funds.
To fund this initiative, we have created the Classis Coordinator Fund. All of these funds will go directly to a classis and can be used to help establish the Safe Church Coordinator position. We now have two ways to give to Safe Church. One is to donate to the Safe Church general fund. The other is to donate to our Classis Coordinator fund.
Blog Updates by other Safe Church Coordinators:
What does a Safe Church Coordinator do? Here are a few blog posts from from a Network series we have called:Updates from Safe Church Coordinators. We can all learn from one another as we practice safe church ministry in our own context. The first is an update from Classis Hamilton, written by Al Karsten. And the second is from Jane DeGroot, the Safe Church Classis Coordinator in Classis Muskegon.