The Northeastern Iowa Synod will soon be offering Safeguarding God’s People boundary training workshops.
These workshops go beyond the work we have done with keeping the church safe for children to preventing adult sexual abuse and exploitation.
The immediate impetus for this is a request from the legal department at the ELCA that all the rostered of our church have a review of their personal and professional disciplines that enable us to maintain our adherence to Visions and Expectations for ELCA clergy.
The Northeastern Iowa Synod has long had a commitment to making our churches safe and “this is the next step in a long-term plan to make our churches as safe as they can be,” explains Pastor Darrel Gerrietts, Assistant to the Bishop.
“Safeguarding God’s People is an important program for all church leaders to attend as we continue to work to make our congregations safe places for all, and to create healthy boundaries for our leaders,” notes Pastor Jeni Bohls, Senior Pastor at St. James Lutheran, Mason City, and member of the SAFE ministry team. “The program helps leaders consider the intentional and unintentional ways harassment and exploitation can occur in our ministry settings through our words and our actions.”
The Synod has a SAFE (Synodical Advocates Focused on Education, Prevention and Healing of Sexual Abuse) Ministry team whose responsibility is to help congregations ensure their communities are healthy and safe places for all of God’s children.
Members of the SAFE team were trained in May of 2014 to lead these new workshops and now each conference being asked to host and publicize a workshop in the next two years.
The expectation is that every rostered person will attend one of these workshops. The synod has had excellent participation in the *Safeguarding God’s Children training (over 2000 people in our synod have received certification) and we believe this training is just as important so that our churches are safe places for all people, young and old.
Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA