To Solve a Safe Church Situation

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In safe church ministry, the word “situation” can be a code word, meaning a request for assistance from an individual or congregation in an instance of abuse or an allegation of abuse. Often a local safe church team, perhaps using resources from Safe Church as well as additional local resources, handles the “situation.” Sometimes the safe church team member will consult with the Safe Church office in Grand Rapids for additional assistance.

However, many CRC congregations have no safe church connection; and there may be no safe church team at the church level or at the classis level. In that case, pastors, elders, or those experiencing abuse contact Safe Church directly. Though we are happy to be of assistance, this is less than ideal; we can only do so much from an office in Grand Rapids. We simply do not have the resources to provide what is needed in these “situations”.

The Safe Church office in Grand Rapids has seen a 100% increase in direct requests for assistance with “situations” in the first quarter of the year over the last three years. In the first quarter of 2016, Jan-March, we recorded 7 separate “situations”. In 2017, over the same period, that number jumped to 14. In 2018, over the same period, that number doubled again to 28.  

The Safe Church office in Grand Rapids has seen a 100% increase in direct requests for assistance with “situations” in the first quarter of the year over the last three years.

This is unsustainable growth for our Safe Church office in Grand Rapids. We (1 full-time and 1 half-time staff) have lots of work to do, strategic work, such as gathering and creating resources, offering education and training, and building partnerships with other ministries for mutual benefit. So… what is the answer for this situation of rising need and reduced resources? Shall we hire more staff? Not likely given recent cuts to the overall budget in the CRC. In the end, we also do not believe that more staff in Grand Rapids is the best strategy in the long term anyway. 

So… what is our solution to this situation? It depends on YOU! It takes all of us working together. Who in your congregation, and who in your classis, is paying attention to safe church ministry? A previous article on The Network called, Abuse Awareness, Prevention and Response: How Will it Happen in Your Classis? describes one proven strategy. A Safe Church Classis Coordinator can help to build an effective team in each classis, a team that can be a resource to congregations in dealing with “situations” and in preventing them from happening in the first place. This is a more sustainable model to meet a growing need. Have you considered this in your classis?

In addition, we are putting our money where our mouth is. Therefore, 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. One hundred percent of the money in the Classis Coordinator Fund will fund safe church ministry locally, going directly to a classis. These funds can be “seed” money to help establish a Safe Church Classis Coordinator position as part of the regular classis structure. Or, funds can be used as mini-grants to promote safe church ministry within the classis. It’s up to YOU! Contact Safe Church to find out how you can become part of the solution to this “situation.”

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Community Builder

Your report of a 100% increase leaves me with mixed feelings. I am sad that so many had to access Safe Church Ministry in Grand Rapids, for the people behind those numbers and for the lack of Classical and Church teams. I'm also glad that so many people knew that there are people to walk along side them. Praying that God would heal the broken hearted, give wisdom to those involved and for more Safe Church teams and Classical coordinators

Community Builder

Thank you Angela. Your prayers are greatly appreciated! Just to be clear, we don't believe that the number of situations has necessarily increased, rather more people are now coming forward, so that these situations are less hidden than in the past. That's really a good thing in many ways. As more people come forward, abuse may carry less stigma, and it will be easier for people to find the help that they need.