Resource

Safe Church Ministry is thrilled to know about, and to let you know about, Hope for the Sold, an organization that works to end sexual exploitation, in part by offering excellent web-based resources. 

May 5, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

Safe Church Ministry only works when we ALL work together. Here are some practical ways you can include Safe Church at your next classis meeting.

May 1, 2017 0 2 comments
Blog

Participating in Assault Awareness Month is not nearly as difficult or uncomfortable as many assume. How will your church make survivors feel safe this month?

April 11, 2017 0 2 comments
Blog

Any month is a good time to focus on safe church ministry, but April provides some special opportunities to connect with your congregation.

April 4, 2017 0 1 comments
Q&A

How can I take not sinning seriously and not end up legalistic? How can I take not sinning seriously while still embracing God's grace?

April 2, 2017 0 3 comments
Blog

With the recent influx of refugees into Canada, the Classis Huron Safe Church Team gathered to ask some questions about the intersection of refugee sponsorship and safe church. 

March 22, 2017 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

If we want to minister effectively with those who have experienced rape, we need to examine what we believe about it, and how false thinking may influence our actions and words causing further harm. 

March 14, 2017 0 1 comments
Blog

We are excited to welcome Eric Kas as the new Safe Church Associate! He is excited to partner with you all as we strive for safe spaces in our churches.

March 8, 2017 0 4 comments
Blog

A truly safe church environment is one where the congregation is aware of the many ways in which abuse is normalized in both secular and Christian cultures and is prepared to help survivors.  

February 21, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

When we are confronted with an allegation of abuse, there are always two paths we can take, two stories we can choose from. And one story will always be easier to believe.

February 9, 2017 0 7 comments
Blog

Let’s acknowledge honestly that we still have a long way to go when it comes to equally valuing women.

January 31, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

The documentary Over 18 tackles an issue many within the church community would rather ignore: the serious effects of pornography on young people.

January 17, 2017 0 1 comments
Resource, Newsletter or Periodical

Get updates on resources, events, and more; subscribe to our bi-monthly Safe Church Newsletter.

January 16, 2017 0 0 comments
Q&A

I have a church in my area that is considering an electronic sign-in for nursery and children's ministry programs. Does anyone have suggestions or resources that may be helpful?

January 6, 2017 1 4 comments
Resource, Report

This past year Safe Church Ministry worked hard to maximize our resources and offer trainings, events, and newsletters on abuse awareness, policy questions, and much more.

January 3, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

Learn how to use applied Scripture and mental health principles to address wounds caused by trauma at a three day Trauma Healing event taking place February 1-3 in Grand Rapids, MI. 

January 3, 2017 3 5 comments
Blog

If I look carefully, I can see God right here and right now. Like the “I spy” game I’ll play with my 3-year-old granddaughter, if I take time to look carefully, I can see. Please open my spiritual eyes. 

December 23, 2016 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

Women considering abortion need education, resources and support. Here are a couple ideas for ways that your congregation can create spaces for talking about abortion with grace and truth.

December 15, 2016 0 13 comments
Blog

How many lives could be changed if the church talked as openly about abuse as any other chronic and life-threatening issues their congregants faced?

December 6, 2016 1 4 comments
Resource, Law or Legal

This letter on Bill 132 (a bill about sexual harassment in the workplace) is meant only for churches in Ontario, Canada. The letter gives guidelines for local churches to fulfill the new bill.  

November 28, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

“The presenters were so knowledgeable and helpful and compassionate." What a blessing to get feedback like this from participants at the Safe Church Ministry conference that took place Nov. 4-6, 2016. 

November 21, 2016 0 3 comments
Blog

We were absolutely thrilled to have Linda Crockett from Samaritan SafeChurch at our Safe Church Ministry Conference. She inspired us with her unsettling story and soon it will be posted on our website. 

November 18, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Why is it that the majority of our classes have no safe church team? Perhaps one reason is the office of Safe Church Ministry itself. If Safe Church owns the ministry, then everyone else is off the hook, right?

November 15, 2016 0 3 comments
Blog

A moving firsthand account of the impact of habitual sexual harassment on women. 

November 8, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

This is a painful election that is in many ways dividing this country and the church. But please, when it comes to assault against women, let’s not be divided.

October 18, 2016 0 51 comments

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I appreciated the article regarding inviting a representative  of Safe Church to Classis meetings.  I am the coordinator for Safe Church for Classis East Grand Rapids.  Classis East has been very enfolding of Safe Church within that body.  I am grateful for their support and the importance that Safe Church has within this body of believers.  If only more Classes would become involved with Safe Church and make it an important ministry we could begin to see a reduction of abuse within our Christian community. Thank you for this fine article and reminding people of the role of Safe Church within our denomination.  Judy Jongsma

Amen sister!

And the truth is this:  every man is born of a woman.  Any man who degrades women, degrades himself.   Without a man, no woman could be born.  Any woman who degrades men, also degrades herself.  

There is no sanctity of life for anyone beyond the womb, who does not survive the womb.  

We don't really know why Hillary stayed with Bill.  There is a lot of political opportunism involved, and her whole life has been almost nothing but politics.  We assume she was faithful to Bill, like we assumed he was faithful to her.  And maybe he was;  they just had a more materialistic view of sex.  Maybe.  The real issues are how these things impact the policies of the country.  And certainly there is a trade-off between the immorality of divorce, unfaithfulness, and random sex, and the loss of lives of the unborn, of the military, of terrorism victims.    While the immorality of some marriages is certainly an issue, also at issue is the immorality of condoning homosex, and destroying the real meaning of marriage through legislation.  Also at issue is the persecution of Christians for their beliefs that same sex marriage is wrong.  This too is serious immorality.  I would argue it is of more significance.  If these issues are not addressed, then divorce becomes almost insignificant in comparison. 

Safe Church would like to post this update from Futures without Violence about teens taking the lead! 

Young survivors of sexual assault and harassment, as well as their parents, are not backing down. They are taking on Congress and their local school districts - and winning. Take for instance this week’s news article about a group of teenagers in Oregon who forced their school district to change how it handles sexual violence.

Anyone can be an activist for change, and this week is a perfect time to join in the fight. Through the end of this week, Congress is in recess, which means your Congressional Representatives and Senators are back in their home offices. Let’s make sure our Members of Congress know how critical it is to fund and enforce programs and services that address sexual assault and harassment in K-12 schools across the country.

We encourage you to call or visit to express your support for items such as: Continued funding and support for the federal Office of Civil Rights and Title IX enforcement; Funding for consent education and prevention programs in middle and high schools; and Support services for victims and survivors of sexual assault and cyber harassment.

Let's follow the lead of these teens. I'm praying for the day when the Church will take the lead in the fight to end abuse.

Thanks for sharing Monica. :)

So good to hear about ways others, like Lantern Coffee Bar, are creating safe, encouraging and meaningful spaces. This is definitely something that we as the church body can learn from both in other third spaces we are a part of - as well as in our spaces of dedicated worship. 

posted in: You Are Safe Here

This is a great article - thanks Monica. Simple things can mean so much. I love the idea of partnering with a local ribbon campaign, what a simple way to raise awareness and show support! 

posted in: You Are Safe Here

Hello Dirk,

In addition to the wise and helpful words that Bonnie and Eric shared - I also feel some of your pain that you share as we continue to struggle in this fallen world, which still belongs to God.

One thing that has helped give me some perspective is a simple saying by Rev. Ron Nydam - former professor of Pastoral Care at Calvin Seminary: "You can't give what you never got." We as people are dependent on the common & special grace that God gives to people - and people receive this - sometimes supernaturally, but more often through a remnant (often called His church) that God is preserving through which he continues to give people his grace. Unfortunately, there are many people who have gone through a wide range of circumstances in life that inhibit their capacity to love and be loved. In this case, often people cannot love others because they have not been given a rooted and persistent love. However, God often intervenes and breaks the chains and cycles - and I think your questioning is one means of breaking these chains. 

As Bonnie and Eric mentioned - I too encourage you to do this kind of self-reflection that is present in your post. In addition, finding some key people who you can trust and will continue to give you the things you need to be a person of peace and grace - so that you continue to "get what you want to give."

Keep on keeping on brother!

Eric Kas

posted in: Prayer for Wisdom

Hi Dirk,

Clearly you have a lot of pain and a lot of complex matters that you are grappling with.  I am sympathetic to your pain and struggle.  Particularly in light of the complexities of your concerns and uncertainty, I would urge you to take these matters up with your pastor and a trusted elder or two.  If you are not currently attending a Bible-believing, gospel preaching church, make that a priority so that you can be ministered to by God's Spirit through the preaching of the word in the fellowship of believers.  It is in the context of this fellowship that you will be able to receive much more specific and  personal attention to your concerns and struggles than anyone in this forum will be able to provide.  

A couple words of encouragement along the way: God's grace is sufficient for you, both unto salvation, and to bring you through life's (often cruel) challenges.  At times this may feel like a distant reality or hard to actually take hold of, but I encourage you to place your trust wholly in Jesus Christ, and he will indeed faithfully shepherd you.   May God bless you and encourage you, even as he uses His Word, His Spirit, and His Body (the church) to heal you.

posted in: Prayer for Wisdom

Dirk, I'm so sorry to hear about the abuse that you've experienced, it's not the way life is supposed to be, certainly not what we were designed for as people created in God's very image. We are constantly reminded that we live in a very broken world; and there are not easy answers to the questions that you ask - theologians have been debating them for generations. It is important to take "not sinning" seriously - and yet realize that none of us are able to do that. We are completely dependent on God's grace not only for our salvation, but for our life every day as we fulfill our desire to honor God in all that we do. And we are called to extend grace to others as well. In love, we understand that no one is able to live a life holy and pleasing to God, therefore we extend to others the grace that we also have received. All that said, the question of how to navigate through this broken world, which includes abusive relationships, still remains. I believe that God calls us to personal self-reflection. We can't change other people, only God can do that. What we can change is ourselves, with God's help, and also our response to others. Where to draw the line in a relationship that is abusive can be a painful and difficult process of discovery and discernment. We are called to speak the truth in love - Jesus was filled with both grace and truth - we struggle in between justice and mercy - there is a tension that must be maintained, or we don't have the whole picture. I think it's a mistake to resolve that tension in search of a quick fix - better to embrace it and live into it. A Christian in an abusive relationship is not called to maintain that relationship at all costs. The costs may simply become to high. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to leave the relationship, creating safer separation; this can be what's most loving to self and others, and can be most honoring to God's created purposes. We are created to be loved and to thrive in a safe environment. Creating a safer separation can be live-giving to the person who has been experiencing abuse. And it can also be life-giving to the one who must now face up to the truth of the abusive behavior and the truth about the damage that has been caused.

It's sad when congregations, and other Christian communities sometimes support those who perpetrate abuse, rather than those who are being hurt by it. This can often happen unintentionally, due to a lack of understanding about the dynamics and impacts of abuse. It can also happen because there is often great pressure to maintain the status quo than to enter into the hard work of bringing these hidden issues out into the open and dealing with them honestly. Safe Church Ministry seeks to help congregations respond more effectively by offering resources that can help. Spiritual abuse, or any abuse within a Christian context is especially damaging, because ideas about God are impacted. My prayer is that you will find others who can understand and support you in your journey with God toward healing and wholeness. The important thing is to be on the right path, going the right direction - we'll all get there in the end. Until then, it's good to have those who can walk with us on this journey as we navigate through this broken world.

posted in: Prayer for Wisdom

That would be wonderful to get some of these resources posted. Most of the resources that Safe Church offers have been gathered and/or created by way of congregations facing these issues. Safe Church is happy to be a part of gathering and sharing information that can help all of us in our various ministries.

This sounds great! I'd love to hear more about what you learned so that we can share it with other churches. Maybe some of this could end up as a resource on the Safe Church Ministry site so that other ministries and churches can share it? 

Thanks Monica! Look forward to seeing you around. :)

 Yes, blaming the victim is all too often the attitude adopted by many people.  And I was VERY disappointed with King David that he did nothing in response to this rape.  It was Absalom who did something, and he had his brother murdered, but what good did that do to his sister?  I remember reading that she remained a desolate woman for the rest of her life.  Imagine the sense of betrayal she must have experienced, not only of having been raped by a sibling but that her own father did nothing.  Tragic.

Wonderful! Welcome, Eric!

So glad you're working with Safe Church, Eric! And this: "I believe God is continuing to raise up leaders in the church to be shepherds — specifically to protect the flock" -- absolutely love this. 

Welcome, Eric!

I agree. Thank you.

I want to be clear that I am not trying to badmouth "restorative justice," or a "restorative justice process."  I have practiced both in my 37 year long practice of law, starting decades before the CRCNA ever said a word about it (it was a big thing for the Friends community out here and I just thought it made sense).

But, it is a difficult thing.  It is the harder way.  And sometimes, those who just know of the phrase (it is fashionable these days, which in a way is not helpful) but don't understand the complexity, nor the nuance involved, nor that sometimes, maybe often, it can't be done, at least not in the immediate timeframe or when in the context of certain kinds of firmly held perspectives by one or both parties.

And the fashionable popularity of "restorative justice" and "restorative justice processes," as good as those concepts may be, will likely be cause for mistakes like this to be made.

Things in life are sometimes complicated.  I just wanted suggest why and how I thought this situation was complicated.  Understanding complication helps us "do better" with it.

Thanks Bonnie, that's really helpful and an important clarification. I wasn't aware that restorative justice was a part of the CRC's recommended process, and definitely was not intending to cast a negative light on its use in the CRC or in general. I agree completely that what is powerful about restorative justice is that it can be a way to prioritize a victim's needs and the real damage and impact on a community. I heard Doug's comment more in light of stories I have read in the past where in the case of grave crimes it can easily be misused if a community is not prepared or adequately trained in the process and able to skillfully see through distorted versions of an event from the perspective of the culprit, like this article from the Guardian discusses. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jan/12/restorative-justic...  The problem may not be the model of restorative justice at all, but like any issue with abuse response, missteps highlight the need for extensive training and awareness because the potential for human error is always so great. 

 

While I agree that Restorative Justice may be misused; and perhaps your comments reveal that it is often misunderstood. I have to note that a true restorative practice is not an easy fix or a simple process. Rather, in its true form, it's a process that allows space for the voice of the one victimized, a voice that so often gets lost in other forms of justice. It allows him or her to tell the story and, just as important, it allows others to listen and to hear, to enter in to that dark space, to get up close an personal with some of the devastation and serious impacts caused by the abuse. It gives attention to the harm done and also gives the one victimized a voice in determining what happens next, or what is needed to make things right. It is a process recommended in the Abuse Victim's Task Force Report approved by Synod 2010. 

Perhaps its name betrays the process a bit. Restorative justice is about restoring relationship - we are called to be one in Christ. It does not mean that a situation will be restored to a former state, or that a church leader will be restored to a former position. In cases of abuse that is not possible. Nothing may ever the same again after an experience of abuse, the damage cannot be undone. Yet our God is an amazing God who can transform, who can create beauty from ashes, redeem brokenness into something strong. He can use Restorative Practices to transform a community, as well as the individuals in it. I think Restorative Justice or Restorative Practices fit the title of this article perfectly; because it's a harder path. On a Restorative path, I believe there is more opportunity for healing, redeeming, and transformation - relationships not the same, but deeper. This path will also require more pain, commitment, and engagement. Choose the harder path.

Wow, thanks Doug. Such insightful comments. I agree completely with your concerns about restorative justice. It seems similar to forgiveness in that it can be powerful and freeing if the situation is appropriate for it but has similar real dangers for misuse and distortions when forgiveness is extended to someone who is unrepentant (by any standard more rigid other than a superficial "I'm so sorry.") I have read some stories upheld as models of restorative justice that made me really cringe. A danger of restorative justice can be that victims and their families in a Christian context have internalized deep pressure to forgive and forget great harm, and may not have the appropriate skills and training to assess whether or not the culprit should be extended grace or remains a danger to society. 

This: "It so wants the perpetrator and victim to be restored, but it needs to hold perpetrators accountable.  The former "want" can overwhelm the latter responsibility, especially when the perpetrator is skilled, and sexual predators are often quite skilled" -- seems exactly the problem. Christians are deeply deeply conditioned to see grace and restoration as the desired outcome for sin, any sin, so there's a tendency towards idealism in many churches, this optimism that the gospel can fix anything and anyone if we just try hard enough. But sometimes it can't, sometimes abusive patterns are deep rooted and possibly even incurable in this lifetime. The church needs to learn to love without having this ingrained triumphalism/naivety that assumes all problems can be fixed by our own willpower and good intentions. We can genuinely love an abuser while refusing to compromise on the care and safety of both the victim and other potential victims. But, as the CT missteps illustrates, I think very few churches are prepared for how to handle a charismatic abuser such as this who knows exactly how to manipulate the Christian worldview to their own ends.  

 

Monica. I would very much agree that this abusive pastor was and may well still be a highly skilled, manipulative predator.  Most lawyers, not just prosecutors, would recognize the profile.

What I have long wondered is whether there is some connection between the church's rather fashionable inclination toward "restorative justice" and a particular vulnerability to being manipulated, as this publication was, by these kinds of predators.

Don't get me wrong.  I love "restorative justice."  But I also believe that "restorative justice" is pretty hard to come by in the real world, and usually because the perpetrator wants to be excused, not restored.  It takes two to have true restorative justice, a truth that restorative justice advocates would sometimes like to not be the case.  That may be a harsh thing to say but I think it is true.

In other words, I think there is a tension here for the church: it so wants the perpetrator and victim to be restored, but it needs to hold perpetrators accountable.  The former "want" can overwhelm the latter responsibility, especially when the perpetrator is skilled, and sexual predators are often quite skilled.

This is just difficult in a way, especially for kind hearted, merciful and gracious "church people."  Not sure of the solution to this but I quite believe this tension exists and can be a serious problem, as evidenced by this article.

For training in abuse awareness, I've adapted many items from my predecessor, Beth Swagman. One of her presentations was entitled, "The Short Course on Abuse". In that presentation, the very first point is: Expect denial from everyone, including you! We simply don't want to believe that abuse really happens, especially when the one who perpetrates it is someone we know, love, and respect. We have to work, to choose the harder path, to overcome our tendency toward denial. We also need to understand the devastating effects and deep impacts of abuse on those who have been victimized by it. Their experience must not be minimized. Instead we honor them by listening carefully, by giving them a voice, by not being afraid to enter in, with them, to a dark place. The Lord can only bring healing when we have acknowledged what has happened and the harm that has been done. This is not an easy path, but the rewards are well worth it. It's been said that the truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. A long term perspective is needed. The first step is overcoming our own strong tendency to deny and to minimize. We do so much harm, re-victimizing those who have already been hurt, when we fail to take this first critical step. 

My church also uses electronic check in - you may contact Shalom Jaconette at River Terrace Church in E. Lansing, MI if you would like to find out more about how it works there.

Marian,

Our kids have participated in some summer programs at Harvest. They have an amazing check-in system with tablet kiosks attached to nametag printers. If you gave the church office a call, I'm sure they would tell you what they use. It's very efficient.

And I just noticed that Planning Centre Online has also added this functionality.

James

So glad to see safe church ministry in BC hosting this event. Hopefully, it will lead to much fruitful discussion. No problem goes away when we hide it or ignore it - bringing it out into the open is the first step toward change and toward healing. Safe Church Ministry offers many resources about internet pornography, and how the church can play a role in fighting this problem that causes so much destruction in our communities, and our congregations.

Hi Marian: 
This is a great question! My church has not switched over but I found this article on church check in software that seems helpful. 

Would love to hear what you end up using!
Staci 

Hey Marian :)

I think LaGrave CRC in Grand Rapids has something like that, unless I'm not remembering correctly from my visit. 

I was part of an ecumenical "Living Free" inner healing prayer ministry for many years. It was transformative for me and for the many people that we prayed with and for, as we saw the Lord show up in amazing ways and bring healing. We were trained from various folks, in various types of inner healing prayer. Brad Long/PRMI, Terry Wardle, and Ed Smith/Theophostic, which seems to fit closely with your description of Alf Davis. We considered all these methods and our training as tools in our toolboxes - tools that Jesus could use. The main focus of the ministry was bringing people into the presence of Christ, like the friends of the paralyzed man who tore through the roof to lower their friend to Jesus. It was their faith, the faith of the friends that brought healing (see Mark 2). And some of us also had other tools, such as bachelor and master degrees, training in Spiritual Direction, etc. What we learned in doing the ministry together was that the Lord can work with our expertise, and also without our expertise. The key is learning to listen and trust the Holy Spirit. Usually we would be completely surprised at how something unfolded and what happened in our prayer sessions. And then we were surprised again that we were surprised, because it happened all the time. I pray for healing prayer, and for prayer in general, to be a greater part of our ministry in CRC congregations. I also pray that the Lord will use this Trauma Healing workshop to further healing in his church. It's another tool that we can have in our toolbox, one that the Lord can use for his glory.

posted in: Trauma Healing

There is a Christian Counsellor, Alf Davis, who resides in Bracebridge Ontario.

He has a healing prayer ministry where during the counselling process, asks the client to invite Jesus into a memory and then to ask Jesus to tell them the truth. Healing is instantaneous.

Alf comes to two federal prisons where I volunteer. Statistics show that 90% of the men in federal prisons come from fatherless homes or homes where they wish the father had been absent. I have seen men, when they meet with Alf, completely changed in one or two one hour sessions.

Alf travels around the world teaching lay people how to do this type of healing. His teaching manual and 5 hours of free video instructions are on his website: https://www.lovehealstv.com/

All the materials are under the heading: "Counsellors".

Alf says his counselling is easy as he spends most of his time leading the clients to be led by Holy Spirit into a memory and then asking the client to ask Jesus to be present bringing his truth.

 

Blessings

regc

 

posted in: Trauma Healing

Very helpful article - Thank you so much for sharing it. There are many commonalities in the experience and the impacts of various kinds of trauma, as well as unique aspects to the experience of physical and sexual abuse. I appreciate those who don't ignore or deny that these issues exist within our congregrations, but rather choose to learn, and to respond in helpful ways. Thanks again for sharing.

posted in: Trauma Healing

I recently discovered this resource, 4 Truths Church Leaders Should Know about PTSD. I am not personally acquainted with Reboot Combat Recovery (so this is not an endorsement), but the linked article is great! It lays out many of the same principles discussed above and can help church leaders begin thinking in terms of helping heal the spiritual wounds of trauma. Although Reboot is a resource geared toward combat trauma, it is not exclusive to that population. The article points out that their principles can apply to any trauma.

posted in: Trauma Healing

Thank you for your kind words. 

Merry Christmas Bonnie. May God bless you in your work. Thank you for your ministry among us.

 

In reply to Bonnie Nicholas about the word "rape" stating the " all rape is criminal." I talked with the Deputy Chief of my City and asked him about the correct wording for "rape." Being that we don't talk about this subject very often, I thought I would be educated !

He replied; With a weapon- -aggravated criminal sexual assault

                   Without a weapon- - sexual assault

                   Illinois does not use the term of rape..

I believe that when talking about a sensitive subject like "abortion" we should try to be thinking on how the law frames the situation, and also on how the medical profession chooses their words. The layman's term, miscarriage is used when a woman delivers a nonviable fetus. The short, medical term is; "she aborted." Now, if someone retells that event, and states that Ms. or Mrs. X had an "abortion", rather than say the medical, "she aborted", one could see how this event could have a damaging effect to Ms or Mrs. X life !

I think that when discussing this subject, "abortion", we should have a short personal prayer to choose our words properly.I know I need to say that prayer ! I am pleased that the CRC is openly discussing many issues in its Network News ! Please continue this practice !

Dean Koldenhoven

Thanks for your comments, Beth. I added the note about the study in JAMA Psychiatry because it got quite a bit of news last week. Like you, it contradicts most of my experiences with post-abortive men and women.  

Hi Beth,

The summary conclusion of the study sited (involving over 900 women over a five year period) compared women with unwanted pregnancies who were denied an abortion, with those who had an abortion. The summary conclusion, says, "In this study, compared with having an abortion, being denied an abortion may be associated with greater risk of initially experiencing adverse psychological outcomes. Psychological well-being improved over time so that both groups of women eventually converged. These findings do not support policies that restrict women’s access to abortion on the basis that abortion harms women’s mental health."

That being said, abortion affects women differently. A previous non-CRC congregation that I attended for over a year offered a post-abortion support group as part of its ministry offerings - a welcoming announcement was listed in the bulletin every week. This seems to me to be a valuable ministry, offering a safe space to those who need to explore with others, others who understand because they've been there, the intense feelings that surround their decision. It was wonderful to be part of a church that so powerfully, and in so many ways, sent the message that we are all sinners, saved only by God's grace. In that kind of environment, difficult issues such as this could be freely acknowledged.

PS - I'm a strong believer in support groups, for all kinds of issues and addictions, not just abortion. There's a strong connection to discipleship in support groups within a congregational setting, and I believe we have a lot to learn. How can we learn to support one another in our state of fallenness and grace?

 

 

 

I agree the church does need to talk about abortion. I am curious about this statement in the article  "Just this week, a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry asserts that having an abortion is not detrimental to the mental health of a woman." Is the author or the OSJ agreeing with that statement? AAPLOG (The American Association of ProLife OBGYNs) has many professional position papers that would argue to the contrary, which I happen to agree with. I have the privilege of working with women making pregnancy decisions. I have seen some of the emotional trauma abortion has caused men and women. When talking about abortion Christ's love, forgiveness and grace must always season the conversation.

Thanks for this account, Dean. Like Shannon said, we too often make abortion about an issue rather than real people.

In answer to your question about how to advise in a case like this, I would likely encourage that as soon as the rape kit was complete the hospital should be asked to immediately perform an emergency D&C. Not all will agree, but I would see this morally as preventing pregnancy, akin to taking the pill, rather than terminating a pregnancy.

I had to search for the link. This is the one I suggested for the OSJ abortion page: http://abortionprocedures.com/

Unlike too many anti-abortion sites, I found this one to be medically accurate without being too graphic and without hysterical screeds against women who get abortions. It clearly explains the four types of procedure, and at which stages of pregnancy they are used.

Thank you for sharing this story. Too often our conversations about abortion are about an "issue" and not real people, made in the image of God, who have been victimized.

Seems we also need to talk about rape. Most rape happens by someone who is known; and all rape is criminal. There is no criminal vs. non-criminal distinction for rape (even though the vast majority of cases do not end in the criminal justice system).

 

  For what it is worth.............I was fortunate enough to have friends who could openly discuss "abortion." In those discussions I gave an example of ..."What would you do ?"

A woman discovered that she needed to go up to the grocery store to get some food for the next day's lunches for her family. It is about 9:00pm, it is dark, when she parks her vehicle in the parking lot and goes into the store to buy her groceries. She comes out and starts to put her groceries into her car when she is grabbed by men who had parked next to her in a van, and throw her into their van and close the door.

There were 5 men in the van and they all took turns raping her while having a knife held against her throat to keep her from yelling out for help.This is known as a criminal rape !

After they all took their turn they threw her out on the parking lot pavement and took off in their van. 

Someone spotted her laying there and went to her aid. They immediately called the police and an ambulance. They took her to the hospital to have her treated for the rape, and checked her out for injuries to her body.

NOW...because this woman was in her fertile stage, she could have gotten pregnant by anyone of the 5 men that raped her !

If she takes a RU 486 pill immediately and another pill 8 hours later, she most likely would NOT get pregnant.The doctors would also have to check her out for any diseases she may now have from the 5 rapists. If she don't take the pill, she could have a baby with a terrible disease, besides the mental anguish she most likely will need professional mental care and counseling.

This is the question; Do you consider the treatment the woman had from the doctors a form of an "abortion" or the proper physical and mental treatment she should have ? Maybe the word "abortion" should not be used in such a case, For the victim's sake it should be called a criminal assault. The word "abortion" is damaging enough if used in an unexplained manner.

YOU make the CALL !

 

deankoldenhoven@yahoo.com

 

    

I'm curious about what the link was, and why it wasn't posted. Also wondering why you didn't try to post it here.

I believe that any discussion of abortion needs to include the underlying reasons that would lead a woman to make such a decision. I like to refer folks to feminists for life. Perhaps if we lived in a perfect world, there would be no need for abortion; we're not in heaven yet. Personally, I would like to see abortion become very rare, and I'm happy to work toward that end. 

As this piece states, "We owe it to everyone to educate each other about reproduction and abortion. We also need to create spaces in our ministries to extend the love, mercy, and grace that we have in Christ." This is why this piece concludes with a request for recommended resources that speak the truth with mercy and grace. 

Thank you for this post. It helpfully reminds us of the various pressures women with unplanned pregnancies face.

You said of women seeking abortion counseling that "few knew the facts about what having an abortion entails." Yet, when I sent a link giving a clinically accurate, non-graphic description of what happens during different abortion procedures with a suggestion it be posted for information on the OSJ abortion page it was rejected. If you didn't like that one, perhaps you could find another. As you said about women seeking an abortion, "They need education, resources and support."

Thanks Shannon for a thoughtful article. We do need to talk about abortion. And we also need to remember that we are called to love one another, including people who face an unwanted pregnancy. We live in a very, very broken world where children are not always valued or loved as they deserve; where the amazing ability of women to bear new life is not always celebrated as the miracle that it is; where men don't always take their share of responsibility for the children that they have fathered; and where sexual violence has reached almost epidemic proportions; and this list could go on... Abortion is wrong; so are many aspects of this broken world that lead up to abortion. How do we talk about abortion, and also reflect the love and compassion of our Savior.

Thanks, Michelle ,  Yes, that's an equally important fact for people to know -- that leaving is the highest period of risk. It takes a lot of courage and support to leave an abusive relationship. 

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