MANDATE (approved May 2016)
The mandate of the Classis Safe Church Team (CSCT) is to support the development and implementation of Safe Church ministry in all member churches of Classis Niagara. The primary responsibility for Safe Church ministry lies with the local congregations. The CSCT in no way replaces that work. The CSCT will avail themselves of any relevant existing resources already in the churches or denomination and connect them to the churches of Classis. In keeping with the CRC’s mandate for the denominational Safe Church ministry, this work is to be accomplished in the areas of EDUCATION, SUPPORT, and RESPONSE.
CSCT will facilitate as needed and regularly track safe church training practices for abuse awareness and prevention/response with respect to Safe Church ministry for the churches of Classis. The CSCT will help share and connect churches and persons to resources, set up/identify training events and connect churches to them. CSCT, on behalf of Classis, will monitor progress in the areas of education and training. CSCT will submit regular tracking updates to Classis as a way of mutual accountability between congregations of Classis in their Safe Church work.
CSCT will facilitate and monitor the support of persons who have been victimized by abuse in connection with the ministry of the church and/or persons who have offended in the church ministry. Councils are asked to contact CSCT Chair if such situations arise. CSCT, in consultation with a Council dealing with a safe church issue, may bring to Classis’ attention support needs that are not presently being met and request further resources for that support from Classis.
- SITUATION REPORTING ETC
Classis has instructed each congregation to include in their Safe Church Policy, a confidential reporting step which stipulates that when an abuse issue is brought to the attention of a Council, that the Chair of the Classis Safe Church Team (or the Team as a whole), be informed that Council is dealing with a situation. The level of detail of the disclosure would go on a case by case basis as needed.
It is to be noted that any advice given by the Classis Safe Church Team or its members remains confidential and is given and as advice only. Safe Church policy and practices are the responsibility of the local Councils and/or the Classis.
- ADVISORY PANEL PROCESS:
CSCT will facilitate the convening of an Advisory Panel when called upon by a Council and/or Executive of Council within Classis Niagara. Also, when possible, CSCT will supply Panel members to neighboring Classes when requested by them. Advisory Panels are to be made up of persons from Classis Niagara churches who have received training in both the Advisory Panel process and in the dynamics of abuse, including position/power dynamics. A Panel may also be formed by using trained persons from a neighboring Classis as appropriate for the need of neutrality for Panel members. Confidential reports concerning the use of a Panel formed by the CSCT are to be forwarded to the CSCT Chair.
Team Membership Notes: –CSCT is ideally to be made up of 6 members with staggered 3 year terms renewable once. At least one member but no more than two is to be an ordained pastor. As much as possible the membership of the team is to be spread across the three clusters/regions of Classis Niagara.
–CSCT members are to have received some training in Safe Church Ministry dynamics so as to carry out their work with effectiveness and with adequate understanding of the dynamics of abuse and responding to it.
CLASSIS SAFE CHURCH TEAM MEMBER POSITION DESCRIPTION
The CRC’s Safe Church Ministry Vision: In ALL Christian Reformed churches people are free to worship and grow in a safe place, free from any threat of abuse. Relationships are open and honest; the infinite value of ALL people is honoured. Where abuse has occurred, the church ALWAYS responds with compassionate justice that fosters healing. All Classis Safe Church team members should be at work in some capacity toward the above vision in their own church as a local church rep while they serve the Classis Safe Church Team.
5 Guiding Goals for Safe Church:
- Every church has and implements a written Safe Church/abuse prevention policy which includes adequate screening, regular review and training, and appropriate accountability for staff and volunteers working with children, youth, and vulnerable populations as well as practices in ministries that adhere to the policies. Policies and practices should be reviewed by the church in conjunction with the church’s insurance carrier and/or legal counsel to ensure compliance with what is required.
- Every church is using a curriculum in church school and youth programs that teaches respect and promotes healthy relationships in an age-appropriate way. Circle of Grace is recommended by CRC Safe Church.
- Allegations of abuse by a church leader are taken very seriously and never minimized or hidden. Every church has protocols in place for responding to misconduct by a church leader, which are carefully followed. The Advisory Panel Process is recommended by CRC Safe Church.
- Issues of abuse can be freely discussed. This means that abuse is acknowledged and that the basic dynamics of abuse are understood. There is a culture of openness to discuss and address safe church issues.
- Leadership at all levels is committed to the importance of Safe Church Ministry and supports Safe Church in a variety of ways.
Qualifications: Classis Safe Church Team members are volunteers from the churches of Classis who consider Safe Church ministry a vital aspect of church life together and should have at least a basic training in and understanding of the realities and dynamics of abuse and its effects on persons and congregations. Team members must be adults in good standing of a congregation of Classis and be approved by their church Council for the position. Team members shall be willing to take advantage of training opportunities available in the region or from the denominational Safe Church office. Team members shall be willing to meet on a regular basis (2-4 times a year) with their classis Safe Church Team to develop strategy for work toward fulfilling the Team mandate.