On January 21 we had another gathering of Safe Church Leaders at Meadowlands Fellowship CRC. It was well attended by 24 people and represented 13 different churches.
After devotions and prayer, Shawn Chisholm of the Hamilton Wentworth Children’s Aid Society (CAS) was our key note speaker. He provided us with an overview of the mandate and role of the CAS and gave an overview of their work over the past year. Their key focus is to protect children and recently the age of what is a child has been increased to 18. They received over 7,000 calls last year and about 10% were open to assist families for one reason or another. The number of children in care has decreased from 524 to 473. The desperate needs for foster families are still great despite of this drop.
Shawn also described the different types of abuse they investigate and the responsibility for those suspecting abuse to report. These reports only need to be made if the children are under 16 years of age. If those 16 to 18 need protection they are encouraged to call themselves possibly with the assistance of a trusting adult
He highlighted how the CAS workers serve as a sounding board for anyone who has concerns about a child. He stated that if one lays awake at night about a situation then that may be an indicator to at least get in touch with CAS and get their input. He stressed that confidentiality is understood but did point out that, there are cases were the adults are able to determine who made the call. Questions of clarification were responded to by him.
The group was asked for suggestions for future events of this kind and thought it would be good to have someone come from mental health area such as Shalem and services to those who have experienced abuse to share their story. Information was provided to the attend Annual Inter-Classis Safe Church Conference, to be held on Saturday, March 2, 2019, from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm at the Waterloo CRC. People were urged to sign up early as there likely will be limited spots:
“This year’s special guest will be Bev Sterk from Lynden, Washington who spoke passionately at last year’s synod about abuse and what the denomination needs to do to prevent it. Other speakers include Kathy Smith, adjunct professor of church polity at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, and former crown attorney Henry Van Drunen. In addition, a presentation on the “Circle of Grace” abuse prevention curriculum program; a presentation on cyber-bullying, by the Waterloo Regional Police Department and a session on mental health issues.”
A brochure with more information will be mailed out by the end of the month.
The registration and information pages (see below) will not be available until the end of the month since we are still firming up some of the speakers for the conference. After February 1, please visit the website below, for further information and registration.
Those that attended were encouraged to contact us any time if they have a situation or concern that they wish our input on. We closed the time with prayer.
Yours on behalf of the Classis Safe Church Team,
- Elaine VanWyngaarden
- Lawrence Uyl
- Al Karsten