Preparing for a Godly Response to Abuse
God is a refuge for all who are in danger. He never ignores the cries of those who are abused. (Ps. 9:9,12). God calls us to protect the weak and vulnerable (Prov. 31:8-9) and to safeguard our churches against any who would seek to hurt his people (Acts 20:28-31).
Because of this, Astoria Community Church has contracted the services of a Christian organization called GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). With consultation from GRACE, a team of ACC members has crafted a policy statement that will help us defend against and respond to abuse in our congregation. Our goal is to help protect children, youth, women, and other vulnerable populations (the elderly, sick, disabled, developmentally delayed, and immigrants) at ACC.
A representative from GRACE will be leading a four-hour training seminar on Sunday, March 27, from 1:00-5:00pm in the ACI synagogue. The purpose of the seminar is to teach us as a congregation to detect, prevent, and respond to abuse in our church. Childcare (babies - 4 year olds) and refreshments will be provided during the seminar. To sign up click here.
A video recording of the seminar will be available for those unable to attend in person. Our long-range goal is for anyone who volunteers in ministry at ACC to have received this training, especially those in leadership positions and those working with children or youth. The seminar is appropriate for anyone in high school or older. In the future, we plan to provide age-appropriate training for those who are younger.
As Christians we cannot face abuse if we are in denial about its reality. Instead, Jesus calls us to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16). We all must take responsibility to become educated about abuse. Jesus spoke often about abuse using the metaphor of wolves, shepherds, and sheep. Jesus warned about “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who would prey upon the vulnerable (Matthew 7:15). The Bible affirms the value and dignity of children and all who are made in God’s image (Luke 18:15-17). God condemns abuse in all forms. Jesus calls every Christian and every church to walk in the light with him and “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
Our goal is to prevent and respond appropriately to abuse by becoming a community that is educated on various forms of abuse and common dynamics, clarifying appropriate boundaries, and doing the hard work of holding each other accountable. All persons should experience an environment of safety and justice and one that is free from any form of abuse, harassment, or discrimination.
We hope many of us make this training a priority to attend. Thank you!