I have the privilege of serving as the designated Classis Coordinator, but in reality, I serve jointly with the Hamilton Classis Safe Church team, which includes Lawrence Uyl and Elaine VanWyngaarden. The help we have received from denominational staff has been excellent, and having two colleagues who have been on Safe Church teams before is a real blessing.
This is my first year. Our first task was to contact each church in our classis to make them aware of our existence, offer help, and get an update on their Safe Church ministry. We were pleased to discover that all churches have policies in place and most have continued to update them. The challenge is in the area of ongoing implementation and training.
As a team, we attended the bi-national Safe Church Conference in Grand Rapids in September. We heard stories that reaffirmed the deep pain and damage that can result in families and churches when abuse takes place. The conference also provided some potential tools and resources that we hope to share with our churches, such as how to protect and prepare our children and youth for potential challenges such as pornography, and reaching out to a trusting adult when they feel unsafe.We also are looking into how we can share best practices with each other in a helpful manner.
On October 1st, we held our Classis Safe Church meeting with 33 people in attendance, representing 13 churches. Ken Hall from Robertson Hall Insurance shared how to be a safe church that protects against abuse, and secondly how to avoid unfounded allegations. His helpful presentation can be found below.
A presentation was made at our regular classis meeting in which the church leaders present were challenged to make safe church ministry a priority to assure that all members are safe and able to grow in their faith.
Our team’s goal is to continue to work with Classis Hamilton churches to offer support and a connection for each safe church representative. This includes challenging them to attend our January meeting, where a local Children’s Aid society representative will present to us. We will also encourage attendance at the annual inter-classis conference on March 2 in Waterloo Ontario, planned by the Safe Church coordinator in Classis Huron, Atie Ott.
If you or your congregations have other ideas on what you have found helpful in your classis, please do share with us, Al Karsten: [email protected]