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The recent meeting of the Classis Chatham Safe Church team was full of rich discussion, which helps everyone feel supported in this important ministry. 

Our meetings are held bi-annually on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon. The agenda includes: local church reports on policy updates and implementation, highlights from workshops, reports on the Safe Church counseling fund, and an educational topic or presentation. 

The May 2019 meeting had a good attendance with 16 individuals representing ten churches in Classis Chatham. The presentation topic was Criminal Sexual History and Involvement in the Church. Recognizing that this was a topic that many churches will have to confront, we wanted to equip safe church leaders and churches with information and resources. The topic lent itself to rich discussions regarding the challenges that can arise within a congregation. A number of attendees noted that the openness of everyone present created a safe place to bring forward questions and concerns, and made attending very worthwhile.

A power point presentation from the meeting is attached. 

Also attached is a sample letter to a congregation, which is shared here as an additional resource, and can offer helpful language as churches decide how to communicate with the congregation in these kinds of situations. Depending on the circumstances, it may be helpful to communicate directly to the congregation about a situation involving someone with a criminal sexual history. No two situations are exactly the same, which makes consultation with a safe church team so valuable. 

Safe Church Ministry has additional resources on this topic posted, including a flyer/bulletin insert, a webinar, links to helpful websites, articles and more. You can find some of those on our website, or search "criminal sexual history" on The Network. 


Thank you for a thoughtful presentation on these important trust issues.   As you noted, support of a small group is essential to the healing process.   We also want to remember and include support for those families at the epicentre, both of the perpetrator and the person who has been hurt.   I wonder if it would be a good idea for congregations to put together trauma teams as part of a safe church ministry so that we can be prepared when these types of incidents are reported.  Ofen people in a congregation struggle alone with heavy burdens.


Thank-you for this article. It contains much helpful information.
I do believe that offenders can be part of congregations with good boundaries and accountability such as mentioned. This would have to be a very long term plan with regular reviews and accountability of the accountability people to make sure it continues well.
One thing not discussed here is offenders and victims attending the same congregation. I do not think the offender should be allowed to be in the same congregation as their victim. The offender should leave. There may be exceptions to this if the victim is an adult and is willing -not coerced- or guilted- into acquiescence, and much time has passed . . . 

A very good point about someone who has offended not attending the same church as someone who has been victimized by that person - it's up to the one who's been harmed to freely make that decision. The needs of the one who has been harmed need to guide the process and decisions going forward.

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