After about one and a half years of being Network Guide for Safe Church, I am signing off. I’ve enjoyed learning about safe church and related issues and sharing my learnings with you via my blogs. I have appreciated the many and diverse discussions we have been able to have in this space. It has been interesting for me to see how some of the Network posts, over time, have accumulated hundreds of views. I’m happy that people can come here and, in confidence, find answers to questions they are afraid to ask out loud.
It is rewarding for me to think that some of the posts we have shared will continue to benefit people long into the future. I know there are individuals and families out there who are struggling with issues of abuse, both past and present. I know there are churches who want to do a better job creating safe spaces and environments for their ministries. I hope the Network will continue to be a place people can find helpful information and resources for support and guidance.
Through this blog, I have also noticed that there is still a huge amount of stigma attached to abuse and related issues in churches. In fact, the stigma is so great that people try to avoid talking about this topic at all. As well, I have noticed a tendency for people to assume that safe church is only an important issue if you yourself – or someone you love – is a survivor of abuse. I hope that will change soon.
The bottom line is this: we can’t prevent abuse if we can’t talk openly about it. Abuse prevention needs to be owned by entire churches and denominational and congregational leadership, not by a small group of “advocates,” “survivors” or “family members” – although they, too, have important contributions to make. Abuse concerns us all and needs to be addressed by us all.
Abuse prevention is a corporate responsibility, and due diligence would require that all churches everywhere do everything in their power to prevent it. It is not the responsibility of those who have suffered (and there are far too many who have suffered abuse) to carry out this work alone; that would not only be dismissive, unkind and unjust, it would be incredibly ineffective.
On that note, I’ll say farewell. I’m signing off as Network blogger, but not as a passionate advocate for safe churches.