Safe Church has recently updated its website to include even MORE resources for you! We believe that effective abuse prevention and response efforts are not possible without a critical awareness of the dynamics and impacts of abuse. This especially includes the power dynamic that most often operates in all kinds of abuse situations. It was a lack of understanding about that power imbalance, and the misuse and abuse of power, that led to an overture to Synod 2015 from Classis Chatham. And a chain of events began. A committee was mandated to review Church Order Articles 82-84 and Their Supplements. A report was produced, which was approved by Synod 2016, along with a mandate to the Executive Director to notify all congregations and classes of these important changes. You can find the Synod Report as well as the letter from the Executive Director, Steve Timmermans, on the Safe Church website.
In addition, we have added new topics to our Abuse Awareness resources. Now included are: Abuse by Clergy or Ministry Leaders, Elder Abuse, Emotional, Psychological and Spiritual Abuse, and Sexual Assault. We hope that having resources arranged topically will help people more easily find what they need. And we are always on the lookout for new resources, so if you have ideas about resources that should be added, please let us know. Contact our office at [email protected]
Safe Church absolutely depends on others; it only works when we build relationships and connections in classes and in congregations. We are nothing on our own. This year, “Better Together” is the theme of the Safe Church Ministry Conference. And though we have called our conference “bi-annual” there is a piece of me that says this may be our last one in this format. As our denomination moves to more regional equipping events and events such as Inspire, it may be more strategic for us to plug into these events rather than host our own conference.
But we have been very pleased with the last two conferences and believe that this one will be even better! We hope that you will consider taking advantage of this opportunity to network and to learn with others who have a passion to honor each and every person, to prevent abuse, and to respond with compassion to those who have experienced it. Yet we understand that Grand Rapids is not the most convenient location, and there is only so much we can do from here. So, we also will spend some time at the conference in conversations that will help us be more strategic as we think about the future of Safe Church Ministry. Again, we hope that YOU can join us at the conference for these conversations. We would love to have every classis represented there.
Because we realize that Grand Rapids is not the most convenient destination for everyone, we are pleased to offer a portion of our conference, two of our plenary sessions, which can be video live-streamed anywhere, right to YOU using this link. Please consider joining us for these live-streamed events. One, the Friday evening plenary session, is about a Church response to interpersonal violence. The other, the Saturday morning plenary session, is about joining a social movement to end child sexual abuse. These sessions are designed to appeal to a wide audience and feature nationally known presenters. And please also feel free to host a video live-stream event at your church. We have publicity materials, ready with a blank text box for you to fill in local time and place information. And we are more than happy to offer assistance, additional materials, etc. to help make your event a success. Please let us know if you would like to become a host site for one of our plenary events. Contact [email protected] for more information.