According to the 2006 Church Member Profile, more than 1 in 5 women in MC USA congregations have experienced sexual abuse or violation; here in 2018, we can only speculate on what that number may be. Franconia Conference continues to be committed to helping end abuse and neglect of all people within our congregations and communities. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we again remind and encourage you and your congregation to take steps to prevent all forms of abuse.
Integrating conversations about healthy relationships and healing abuse is crictical in our congregations. In March 2017, Salford Mennonite Church addressed the issue of child abuse in a special service. If your congregation would consider doing a similar spotlight on this issue, a list of resources utilized for Salford’s service can be found on our Church Safety page. Many other resources for churches, leaders and individuals in the area of church safety, abuse prevention and care for survivors can be found on the Dove’s Nest resource page.
Under Pennsylvania law, all churches must have a written Child Protection Policy, and Franconia Conference encourages ALL of our congregations — no matter what state — to have a policy that is reviewed annually, to ensure it is being implemented. Additionally, congregations must ensure that staff and volunteers that work with children and youth under the age of 18 have the proper clearances, have completed a Mandated Reporter Training, and that background checks are on file at the church. In Pennsylvania these clearances must be renewed every five years at least. Franconia Conference has scheduled three Mandated Reporter Training sessions for 2018, in May, June and September, which you can now register for by clicking here (link closed). These trainings are free and open to anyone who wises to attend. This training is required for credentialed leaders’ credential renewal.
Dove’s Nest, a nonprofit organization that grew out of concerned individuals in Mennonite Church USA, has been working to keep children and youth safe for almost 10 years. This year they have launched a study to assess the impact of their work over the past decade with churches related to Mennonite Church USA and beyond. Church leaders should have received an invitation to participate in a survey, which will help them determine the needs of churches in the area of child protection, and how to best serve churches and remain in touch with the growing and changing needs related to safety in faith communities.
- Preventing and Responding to Sexual Abuse: Some Much-Needed Resources by Krista Showalter Ehst
- Understanding Symptoms of Sexual Abuse, by John Drescher-Lehman
- Spring 2017 issue of Intersections – addressing abuse focus
- Survivors Safe Haven self help group for survivors of abuse and their loved ones
- Church Together Statement On Addressing Abuse in Our Midst