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David Orr, pastor of a Mennonite congregation in Nebraska, was very pleased by how easily children learned lessons about staying safe in church and elsewhere through the Circle of Grace program.

Circle of Grace was developed by the Catholic Church in Nebraska in response to the problem of priests abusing minors. Orr’s church was one of the first to use it.

“Circle of Grace provides a great age-appropriate resource,” says Orr. “It firmly links the protection of children with God’s will and provides children and their parents with a common vocabulary for discussing concerns.”

Early this fall, the CRC’s Safe Church Ministries made Circle of Grace available to congregations expressing interest in a program that teaches both adults and young people the basics on how God’s love embraces everyone and how God desires that all of his children remain safe.

“We are so pleased to be able to offer these excellent materials to help prevent abuse, protect children and youth, and make church a safer place,” said Bonnie Nicholas, director of Safe Church Ministries.

Promotional material for the program says that children and youth are encouraged to recognize “that each of us lives within a Circle of Grace that holds our very essence in body, mind, heart, soul, and sexuality.”

Children and youth are also “taught to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.”

Circle of Grace can be used by churches in ways that will fit into their own church school programs, said Nicholas.

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