"We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.”―C. JoyBell C.
Safe Church Ministry has been my context (my pond) for the last 9 years. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to serve the CRCNA. I’ve been given a wonderful platform to work toward my passion to see the Church become a safe, beloved, healing community for everyone, and especially for those who have experienced sexual abuse.
I’m grateful to the Lord for this calling and opportunity. It was a steep learning curve for me, especially as I did not grow up in the CRC and I had never worked in such a large office environment. At my very first synod, where I was introduced as the new director of Safe Church Ministry, I expected to stand up and do a little wave to the crowd of delegates. Instead, I was invited up to the microphone to say a few words! I have no idea what I said. In some ways, that was a good introduction into a position that has called me into unexpected places and challenged me in ways I could never have anticipated.
Now, the time is quickly coming for me to venture out, and to entrust Safe Church to others who will carry the work forward. I plan to retire from my position as director of Safe Church Ministry on November 20, 2020.
Since 1994, when it was created, Safe Church Ministry has undergone many changes: a new name, new leadership, new staff members, new structural changes, new strategies, new priorities, etc. Change is one thing that remains a constant through the years. There is nothing to fear in change, because we know that our Lord, our all-powerful, loving sustainer, has promised not to forsake his people.
We can trust in God’s very presence with us, with his Church, through any and all changes. Our hope in God is sure and unchanging through it all. And the mission of Safe Church Ministry, to equip congregations in abuse awareness, prevention and response, is not going to change or go away any time soon. We can expect its influence and impact to continue to grow.
The last few synods have powerfully revealed the need for effective safe church ministry within the CRCNA. The Church has a key role to play in abuse prevention and response, and also in the wider movement to end abuse. This has been clearly evident from the beginning, and will continue to be true for a long time to come.
Why am I writing this now? Is it too soon? Will I become a “lame duck” and lose my voice once people know I’m on my way out? I don’t know the answers. What I do know is that I would like to request your prayers, for me, that I would finish well as director of Safe Church Ministry, and for discernment as I enter into what’s next.
A friend, on her retirement, once said to me, “I want to leave while I can still walk out of the place.” I resonate with the sentiment of wanting to leave while I still have some good years left, to try some new things, and to enjoy time with my husband while we both have our good health. I look forward to new opportunities and new ways to follow my calling and use the gifts that God has provided.
There are lots of other changes within the CRCNA, those ongoing, and others being considered. The ongoing, anticipated, and not yet considered changes also need discernment and prayer. So, please keep praying and stay tuned, God is working.