Two years ago, in the first quarter of the year, Safe Church director Bonnie Nicholas received seven calls concerning abuse incidents. Last year she received 14 calls in the first quarter. This year the number is already at 28.
That was the report heard by the Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church at its May meeting. Safe Church ministry is charged with education and abuse prevention in the churches.
The Mercy and Justice committee of the council said that the exponential increase in the work requires more resources. The committee pointed to the Abuse Victims Task Force report approved by Synod 2010 (the annual leadership meeting of the CRC). Among the recommendations in that report was one to allocate resources to provide support for pastoral care and healing (Acts of Synod 2010, pp. 862-866).
Susan Hoekema, Classis Muskegon, said, “We’re turning back to synod and saying we need resources allocated.”
She noted that with the #MeToo movement, North America is facing a heightened awareness of abuse. “The churches need to step up.”
The question is where the money would come from. Chris DeWinter, Classis Niagara, wanted to know what resources were being asked for and from where. “We’re leaving that to synod,” she said. “Part of that could come from an increase in ministry shares.”
Executive director Steven Timmermans noted that synod requires a financial plan for recommendations. “I’m not saying it isn’t worthy,” he told delegates. “We have a budget, staff worked very hard on it. It doesn’t have other money in it.”
The delegates voted to send the request to Synod 2018.