Safe Church has made a very difficult decision to transform our upcoming fall conference - it will no longer be a gathering together in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We were so excited about the 2020 Safe Church Conference, especially as we talked over details with Boz Tchividjian, founder of GRACE who was planned as our featured speaker. Then our world changed, as the Covid-19 pandemic took away the life we knew. The Safe Church staff no longer believe that it's wise to invest the time, effort and monetary resources into planning for a face-to-face bi-national gathering in October. At the same time, our commitment to our mission, our Safe Church Coordinators, and their teams, has NOT changed. Though we grieve this loss, we are becoming more excited about the opportunities offered to us in its wake. So, stay tuned for new ways to do Safe Church conferencing and equipping. What exactly will it look like? That is yet to be determined. We are still in conversation with Boz Tchividjian about online alternatives. We still have wonderful resources to share. We are still full of ideas about how to Connect, Collaborate and Coordinate to end abuse. We are still committed to expanding the influence and impact of safe church ministry in every classis and in every congregation. We are hopeful that God is at work, even in this. So ... stay tuned.
Posted in January:
We are excited to announce the 2020 Safe Church Conference! Mark your calendars for October 22 to 24 in Grand Rapids, MI at the Drury Inn. The theme for our conference will be: Connect, Collaborate, and Coordinate to end abuse.
The format of this Safe Church Conference will be slightly different from previous years. Since 2012, Safe Church has hosted a biennial, bi-national Safe Church conference. In the past, these conferences have been for all who were interested in Safe Church, whether you were a leader in your congregation or classis, or if you simply cared about abuse issues. We had wonderful times of networking, encouragement, and inspiration with everyone who attended!
This year, however, the conference will primarily be for classis Safe Church Coordinators and key safe church leaders in each of the 49 classis of the Christian Reformed Church. Our hope is that we are able to better carry out our theme for 2020: to connect, collaborate, and coordinate together, as one body, from our various regions to end abuse.
Why the switch to just inviting safe church coordinators of classis?
We see Safe Church Ministry as a small agency that is part of a grand movement to finally end abuse; while the Lord is the one who will ultimately end abuse, our Triune God has also called each of us as instruments of the Kingdom that Jesus is continuing to bring. We have witnessed many steps both in the wider society, as well as in the church, that have led to a greater awareness of the impacts of abuse in all of its forms. Yet, we still have a long way to go.
The Christian Reformed Church is assembled in such a way that congregations are accountable to each other and support each other as a classis (or a group of churches).
Since Since 1994, when the Office of Abuse Prevention was formed (now Safe Church Ministry), there has always been an emphasis on safe church teams in each classis being trained and equipped to do the primary work of abuse prevention, awareness and response. Yet, many classes still do not have a safe church team. We believe that having a Safe Church Coordinator, as a strategic part of the classis structure, is a key ingredient to effective safe church ministry. To learn more about the Safe Church Coordinator position and available grant funding, go to our Network article here. We understand that those who are in the field and on the front lines have much to offer, perhaps more than those of us working behind the scenes in the Grand Rapids office. We want to spend time learning from one another about what is working well, and ways to overcome challenges that we face. We want to spend time envisioning together what can be, but is not yet, in safe church ministry.
We are so excited for the 2020 Safe Church Conference to further invest in the safe church leaders of our classes as we connect and collaborate with each other so that we can coordinate and catalyze movements to end abuse in our churches and communities.
Safe Church Coordinators, mark your calendars now for October 22 to 24! In the meantime, we invite all leaders to the new Safe Church Ministry Webinar Series titled "Connect, Collaborate and Coordinate." The webinar series kicks off January 29th at 12 pm EST (get the info for the webinar here).