Safe Church

Dear Christ Church friends,

Scot McKnight writes, in his book A Church Called Tov, “Yes, the church is part of the good news of Jesus. And the church proclaims the good news of Jesus. But when men and women have only seen churches formed by unhealthy power, celebrity, competitiveness, secrecy, and self-protection, our corporate ecclesial life belies the truth of the gospel. The church can only witness to the truth of Jesus by seeking justice, serving with humility, operating transparently, and confessing and lamenting failures.”

Over the summer our Vestry commissioned a Safe Church Task Force to review and strengthen our policies and protocols concerning abuse prevention and response. The purpose of this task force is three-fold: to review policies currently in place, to identify areas where they may need to be strengthened, and to equip our parish to foster a culture of safety for the vulnerable. If you would like to learn more about the task force, you may contact its Facilitator, Jen Pappenhagen.

This effort is not a response to any specific situation in our church, but rather a proactive effort to safeguard the most vulnerable in our care—especially, but not limited to, children. The last few years have seen numerous revelations of egregious abuse of power, both in and out of the Church (including in the ACNA). In most of these cases, mishandling of the situation—even when well-intentioned—caused further harm to victims.

As more and more abuses come to light, this is a kairos moment for Christ Church to humbly take stock, and learn from these examples. We want to proactively foster a culture of safety, and not take it for granted.

The work of this task force is the next step in our growth as a parish, and part of Christ Church’s long-standing commitment to stand with the vulnerable. The team is building on the healthy foundation we’ve already established over the years. Their goal is to equip our parish (especially staff and lay leaders) with not only strong policies, but also the training and resources to implement them well. We hope our parish will be empowered to recognize, resist, and report abuse, and know how to respond well if and when we see it.

Our vision at Christ Church is to create and communicate a culture where—in the words of leading survivor/advocate Rachael Denhollander—”victims are safe and predators are not,” a culture of goodness, a community of shalom.


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