Thrive recently welcomed Julia Rathbun to the team as a ministry consultant with a focus on safe church work. She shares some of her story and hopes for the role below. Join us in giving her a warm welcome!
Tell us about your professional background -- where are you coming from and what did you value in that role?
I am coming from Bethany Christian Services Refugee and Immigrant Services. I worked at Bethany for 10 years, all in refugee and immigrant services for unaccompanied minors. In my last role, I was supervising a case management team out of the Holland branch.
One of the things that I valued the most was being able to welcome those just arriving to the United States and supporting them as they began their new life. It is humbling and an honor to walk alongside children as they grow and learn and watch them achieve their goals.
What drew you to this position? How does it align with your heart and skills?
As a young person in high school, I watched my home church walk through some very challenging times and I could see the need for leadership to have more support. I have seen the ways that there is often unresolved hurt and trauma amongst members yet so few in leadership have the professional skill set to help. As a college student studying social work, I began to think about what it would look like to bring social work skills to a church setting and be able to support the leadership and members in a new way. After joining a CRC church and learning about the safer churches work a few years ago, I knew that I wanted to get involved because this seemed like the type of opportunity that I had been thinking about for years. I became the Safe Church Coordinator for classis Grand Rapids East and when I learned of the position with Thrive, I was excited to apply and see if God would lead me to this role.
I feel that it is foundational to faith formation that all have a safe space to worship at church. I also think that when abuse occurs, it is essential that there is a process to deal with the situation. I enjoy training and walking alongside others as a guide and this role is a great fit for those things. In my previous role I learned a significant amount about trauma, how to work with victims of trauma, resilience and healing and I think that knowledge will be an asset to begin working as a ministry consultant for Thrive with a focus on safe church work.
What are some aspects of this role you are eager to dig into or develop?
I am eager to learn about the ministries of Thrive and how ministry consultants work together to support churches. I look forward to meeting and getting to know Safe Church coordinators and learning what I can do to support them. One of my initial projects will be updating the coordinator’s handbook and reviewing and revising materials available on the website.