Child protection takes commitment, courage and vigilance…

As CMC has continued its journey in the Safe Church Program, many of you have attended an initial presentation, either the October education session or one of the recent Sunday School sessions. THANKS so much for coming, for listening to a difficult topic and for understanding the church’s role in affecting change. If you have yet to hear a Safe Church initial educational session, this Sunday, Jan 18, we will offer a re-cap of the information presented and will continue the discussion of child sexual abuse.

During these sessions, we’ve come together as a faith community to learn disturbing statistics about this horrible abuse of power. We now understand why it’s imperative to incorporate the program into our congregation for we must place responsibility on adults to keep our children and youth safe from vulnerable situations. We also learned many survivors of child sexual abuse don’t disclose their abuse until adulthood. Many “walking wounded” surround us: in our places of work, in our organizations, and in our churches, and they suffer the same symptoms as a warrior who’s returned from the battlefield.

CMC is fortunate to have a large children and youth population, and varied programming for our young people. We are also fortunate to have many adult volunteers who offer their time, energy and guidance to our kids, and we want to maximize the opportunities for the congregation to contribute their time and talents! However, Safe Church has highlighted our responsibility to ensure a safe environment for children and youth. The program requires commitment.

When I think back over the last year, since I participated in the initial “training of trainers” for the program, I am so thankful Safe Church has compelled us to have a courageous conversation about child sexual abuse, to more fully understand this problem and recognize it as pervasive in our society. I am also thankful the program has made us review policies and procedures, feeling grateful we had a formal policy on minimizing child sexual abuse in place, but now more aware of the need for additional, specific language in this policy.

Most importantly, I am truly thankful communities of faith are taking leadership in this movement: showing churches, communities and, ultimately, our society how to respond to abuse of power. It’s one of those shining, albeit difficult, moments in my faith journey. And I am forever grateful to be a member of a congregation helping create a paradigm shift in the way we confront child sexual abuse.

As we move forward…with much commitment, great courage and continued vigilance.

Marsha Thomas, Youth Commission Chair

PS…I look forward to seeing you at our final Safe Church presentation on the “Grooming Process,” Sunday, February 1, in the Fellowship Hall after Sunday School. A meal will be provided beginning at 11:30 and childcare will be available for PreK-Jr MYF.

Community Mennonite Church
70 South High Street Harrisonburg, VA
cmc_office@cmcva.org
540-433-2148

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