Better Safe Than Sorry Churches

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Are our churches safe enough? Synod 2009 heard that only 20 of the CRC’s 47 classes (geographical regions) have assembled Safe Church Teams.

Classis-based Safe Church Teams provide abuse-prevention education and support, connect alleged victims with an advocate, and also form a fact-finding advisory panel when an adult claimant brings an allegation of misconduct against a church leader.

Some classes are too small to offer enough trained panelists for a hearing process.

Delegates decided that to ensure an advocate and an advisory-panel process are available to every church member, advisory panels could be regionally based, encompassing more than one classis, to fill in gaps between and across classes.

These regional panels will only conduct hearings and will report to the church to which the alleged offender belongs. Education and support services will continue to be provided by the classis.

Synod also heard that the newly renamed Safe Church Ministry, formerly the Office of Abuse Prevention, will train its volunteer advocates across the denomination to begin including restorative-justice techniques in their work with alleged victims.

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About the Author

Dan Postma is an occasional reporter for The Banner.
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