The BC Safe Church Team has been in existance since the late 90's.
At first, we were called the Abuse Response Team (ART). The team name changed to Safe Church Teams because the scope of the team increased. The goal of the classis Safe Church Team is to help each congregation build and sustain healthy interactions between church leaders and those who participate in church prgrams or worship at the church.
What We Do
- The team conducts an advisory panel to fact-find when allegations of abuse are made against a church leader by an adult. Often, the alleged incident happened several years ago. The team members undergo extensive training to conduct sessions with the alleged victim and alleged offender.
- The team offers education on broad range of abuse-related topics.
- The team offers support services to people who experienced abuse or abused another. These are not counseling services, but they include referrals, resources, phone calls or face-to-face conversations to help someone through a difficult time related to abuse.
The Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in 1989 convened a committee to study the problem of abuse among the membership of the CRC. The committee commissioned Calvin College Social Research Center to conduct a survey on abuse. The survey results stunned people. Here are a few of the results:
- 28% of adults in the CRC experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
- 15% of adults in the CRC abused another person physically, sexually, or emotionally.
- Children between birth and 12 years old are at greatest risk of abuse.
- Persons with a disability are 2-3 time more likely to experience abuse.
Synod of 1992 sadly acknowledged these results and declared abuse to be a sin. Synod also asked the study committee to develop protocols for local churches to use to respond to incidents of abuse.
Synod of 1994 created the office of Abuse Prevention and appointed a fulltime director to continue the efforts of the study committee. In 1997, Abuse Prevention presented Synod with protocols for responding to abuse allegations brought by a child and by an adult. Synod approved both protocols.
The protocol to respond to children and to prevent the risk of abuse in the church setting became the Child Safety Policies.
The protocol to respond to adults became the Advisory Panel Process. Synod then encouraged Classes to form Abuse Response Teams to offer the panel process, education and support services.