Classis Huron's Safe Church Inter-Classis Conference Highlights 2020

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On Saturday, March 8, 2020 almost 100 people gathered together at Waterloo CRC to invest in conversations about Safe Church Ministry. 

Arie Ott (Safe Church Coordinator), along with her team from Classis Huron, have been hosting these events for over 25 years! The line up of speakers and contributors for this event was excellent and we wanted to be sure to pass along all the resources they shared.  

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WAYVE presentation

The WAYVE team is a group of youth from across Kitchener-Waterloo who develop and deliver presentations about current issues faced by young people. We had the opportunity to have their team of young women present to us, sharing their stories of challenges and successes. John VanPelt,  principal at Woodland Christian High School, led a conversation after their presentation focused on bullying and how we, as a church community, can work to combat these issues. To find out more about their organization, visit WAYVE.ca. WAYVE is run through the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington.

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Bonnie Nicholas, Director of Safe Church Ministry

Bonnie Nicholas has been serving as the director of CRC Safe Church Ministry for over 8 years. She is passionate about equipping congregations in abuse awareness, prevention and response. She brings to the position various experiences related to sexual abuse and domestic violence, including serving on regional coordinating councils with area service providers, and facilitating support groups for those who have suffered abuse. Here are some resources she shared: 

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Carol Penner

Carol Penner is an ordained Mennonite minister who currently teaches practical theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. She has worked as an advocate for survivors of pastoral misconduct and has written and consulted on the topic of abuse. We appreciated her wisdom as she lead the entire group through an opening devotional and discussions on sexual abuse in the church. With education comes change and we are aiming for the day when sexual abuse is no longer present in the church.

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Yvonne Lammers

Yvonne Lammers is a social worker who works in the field of Mental Health and Addictions. She is currently the Manager of Crisis Intervention Programs with CMHA Middlesex. She has also worked in the Violence Against Women sector. She is the Chair of the Classis Chatham Safe Church Team and has been on the Safe Church Team at Good News Christian Reformed Church since its inception. 

Yvonne’s presentation about how the church responds to those with a criminal sexual history received a significant amount of positive feedback, as well as a great deal of discussion, so we have asked her to be the guest speaker for one of our upcoming webinars. Safe Church offers these resources on the topic.

Yvonne Lammers, Guest speaker:

Safe Church Webinar series: Connect,Collaborate and Coordinate to End Abuse! 

June 24, 2020 at 12pm EST.

Please join us online! 

Join Zoom Meeting

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Leslie Smith

Leslie Smith is an Employment Lawyer, Mediator, Arbitrator, Small Claims Court Judge, Workplace Investigator, Author and Speaker. Leslie’s Employment Law practice focuses on all employee / employer concerns including workplace harassment and bullying, performance management issues, workplace investigations, human rights, wrongful and constructive dismissal and employment and independent contractor agreements. She presented Workplace Harassment 101. Leslie has written a book that is a great reference: Legal Ease: Essential Legal Strategies to Protect Canadian Non-union Employees and can be contacted at www.lesliejsmithlaw.com

Her workshop involved lively discussion in pairs of a case study, in which conflict within a system escalated. Legally defined harassing behaviors were identified and also how to respond to avoid similar situations happening in our churches.

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Becca Sawyer

Becca Sawyer  works for Generous Space Ministries as the Ontario Director. We learned about Becca’s personal experience of being minimized in the church setting and the negative impact that initially had on her life. She spoke about creating spaces of acceptance for LGBTQ+ folks. To find out more about their organization, go to Generousspace.ca

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Thank you to everyone who attended this conference. It highlights the value of events such as this for fruitful and effective ministry in our various church contexts. Thank you to Atie Ott, who graciously allowed me to use her materials for this article. 

Thank you to all the speakers who support the mission of Safe Church. Your knowledge and teaching is invaluable as we move forward in our ministry to end abuse.

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