After six years as a professor at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Mich., Amanda Benckhuysen has accepted a position as director of the Christian Reformed Church’s Safe Church Ministry.
Benckhuysen was appointed to the position in early December by the executive committee of the CRC’s Council of Delegates, and will begin her duties Jan. 25. She replaces Bonnie Nicholas, who retired in November after nine years as director.
The Safe Church Ministry began in 1994, five years after a synodical study committee found that 28% of adults in the CRC had experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and that 15% of adults in the denomination had abused another person physically, sexually, or emotionally. Originally known as the Office of Abuse Prevention, the Safe Church Ministry was given the responsibility of equipping congregations to recognize, prevent, and respond to abuse.
“My heart has always been about helping the church see and minister better to those who are most vulnerable, and to see that as part of the gospel message, to see that as part of the mission of the church,” Benckhuysen said.
“When you think of people who have experienced abuse, how do we come alongside them … how does the church begin to pray for healing for them, and how do we mitigate against the possibility of abuse in its own context?”
An ordained minister in the CRC, Benckhuysen has been a professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary since 2014. Before that, she had taught at the University of Dubuque (Iowa) Theological Seminary for six years and was a campus minister at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She will step away from teaching under her new role as Safe Church Ministry director.
Beckhuysen holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., a master of divinity degree from Calvin Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto School of Theology.
Benckhuysen attends Kelloggsville CRC in Wyoming, Mich., where her husband, Martin, is the pastor.