Synod 2007 made it clear that every classis must have child-safety policies and a Safe Church Team to protect its most vulnerable members.
Many previous synods sent the same message, leaving this year’s delegates wondering why so many congregations and classes have ignored it. Elder Hank Jagt, Classis Chatham, said, “If you have a Cadets program, if you have a GEMS program or a Friendship program—you have to get these guidelines in your church.”
Safe Church Teams do not exist primarily to deal with abuse complaints, but to educate. Kathy Vandergrift, a woman adviser to synod, pointed out, “If the focus is put on the prevention side, there is a lot of work to be done in each classis.” Vandergrift noted that some very good abuse education materials are available from Faith Alive Christian Resources.
“Give these teams something to teach,” she said. “That is the way we will protect children in the long run.”