Abuse Awareness Sunday has moved! This year, Abuse Awareness Sunday will be April 14, 2024.
In the past, the 4th Sunday of September was set aside in the Christian Reformed Church calendar to acknowledge and lament abuse in the church and in the wider culture. Starting this coming year, Abuse Awareness Sunday will be held on the 2nd Sunday of April. April is designated as both Child Abuse Prevention month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S. In Canada, the month of May is Sexual Violence Prevention Month. The designation of the second week of April as the new Abuse Awareness Sunday is a way of ensuring that resources will be available for churches on both sides of the border to recognize abuse at times consistent with their own context.
While the date has changed, Thrive's commitment to promoting greater awareness about abuse in all its forms has not. As in past years, Abuse Awareness Sunday is an opportunity to energize and inspire renewed commitment to measures that will increase the safety and health of our congregations. As a denomination, it is important to us that those in our congregations are able to grow in faith and worship the Lord without fear of harm or abuse.
The theme for this year's Abuse Awareness Sunday is Safe People. Safe Congregations. Often, when we think of abuse prevention, our minds go to policies, background checks and hall monitors. While these are all important strategies for abuse prevention, this year we want to invite each person who participates in our congregations to reflect on how they might contribute to a safe environment by being a safe person. A safe person is someone who:
- Treats each person with dignity and respect
- Actively listens with compassion and empathy to others
- Acts with honesty and integrity
- Respects others boundaries
- Admits and apologizes after wronging someone
- Advocates for the marginalized and the vulnerable
Many of the postures listed above are reflected in what the Apostle Paul describes as keeping in step with the Sprit. "But the fruit of the Spirit," Paul writes, "is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)." In their essence, safe congregations are made up of people who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
For more on this year's Abuse Awareness theme, check out the following resources:
- Bulletin Insert
- Worship Resources for Abuse Awareness Sunday (we will continue to add resources to this page in the weeks leading up to April 14, 2024)