Why Should a Pastor Attend the Summit on Abuse?

On Monday, September 11, 2017, pastors are invited to attend the Pastors’ Summit on Abuse from noon to 4:30 eastern daylight time. Today I talked with several leaders at the North American Division to find out why they believe it is so important that pastors attend this event.

I first talked with Debra Brill, Vice President of the NAD, who chairs the planning team for the summit. She said “We want our churches, homes and schools to be places where people experience God’s love, where everyone feels ‘safe and secure from all alarms!’ The reality is that churches reflect our broken society. Understanding the threats of abuse and being intentional about solutions can lead us to become healing communities.” 

I asked her why is this summit designed for pastors. She responded “Pastors are often the first responders to members in crisis, and must prepared to know what to do and what to say.  Some of the questions addressed will be ‘What is our responsibility to a member shattered by verbal and physical battering by their spouse? How should we respond when a child says another child is ‘hurting’ them? What systems are in place to guide leaders when violence is reported? When a convicted sex offender comes to church, what do we do?’”

Ivan Williams, NAD Ministerial Director envisions “That church become a safe place;  A place of refuge;  An informed community of hope, addressing the needs of broken people and protecting the least of these.”

When asked which presentation he is especially looking forward to he replied “Quite frankly, I’m looking forward to being informed in some way by all the presenters, but if I had to choose, the ‘Misapplied Scriptures’ caught my attention first.”

This event will be presented in a live streamed interactive format. When asked ‘what advantages did he see in the live streamed interactive format, Dr. Williams said “I find the discussion possibilities going way past the event itself. Through social media and online dialogue, this subject matter can and will live beyond 2017.”

He went on to emphasize that today’s pastors must be informed about the pervasive issue of abuse. “Remaining willingly ignorant will never be an option for those whom the Lord calls.”

Carla Baker, Women’s Ministry Director for the NAD notes that “Pastors need to be aware of the high incidence of abuse in our church (about 25% of our members experience some type of abuse in their lifetime). They need to know how to recognize the signs of abuse and what their legal responsibilities are. In the case of abuse, ignorance can lead to devastating consequences for the local church or school and for the victims.”

Tracy Wood, Associate Director of NAD Youth, is particularly aware of the need for safety among our youth. “Many volunteer children and youth leaders in our churches, when on a Pathfinder campout or a youth retreat, hear about abusive situations that young people are experiencing.  These volunteers are considered ‘mandatory reporters’ and are obligated to share with authorities information that can create extreme challenges in young peoples’ homes as well as their church.  It is extremely important that pastors are aware of what is happening in the lives of their youth, their volunteers, and their parishioners, and that they have skills as well as policies and procedures in place to keep their churches from dividing when mandatory reporters must disclose information to authorities.”

The Pastors Summit on Abuse will be livestreamed on facebook.com/enditnowNAD/ Monday, September 11, from noon to 4:30 EDT. Attendees may wish to register in advance at https://www.enditnownorthamerica.org/registration in order to be informed of the latest details on scheduling as well as access to all of the End it Now resources.