Ministry is not safe. Doing the will of God, from time to time, takes us out of our comfort zone into places of fear and danger. An effort to welcome the stranger is not simply about welcoming kind, generous, like-minded people. Welcoming the stranger is also about inviting the most disreputable people into our midst, to become a member, a follower, a practitioner of Jesus. There is of course the danger of sorrow and hurt, but there’s the hope and promise of the building up of the Body of Christ.
In a very real sense we are all vulnerable, we can all be easily hurt by callous and thoughtless behavior. Part of our mental and spiritual health is built on our ability to discern behavior that is loving from that which is simply mean or insensitive. Healthy communities help individuals with this discernment. Healthy communities also make every reasonable effort to prevent any kind of abuse from happening.
It is so that we can minimize the possibility of anyone suffering abuse from someone “doing ministry” on behalf of St. Paul’s Church that we have developed a SafeR Church policy. It means that we will make every effort to prevent children, youth and vulnerable adults from being abused by people doing ministry at St. Paul’s. It also means that there is a healthy and safe way to report abuse if it occurs.
Next Sunday we will have a report about the Policy. Everyone is encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Policy and the efforts we are making to prevent abuse. (https://sites.google.com/site/stpaulschurchsite/safer-church)
Many people have acknowledged that ministry isn’t safe. I’m not the first to say that, but we must distinguish between the risks we take in offering ministry and the risk people take to receive ministry. The first is unavoidable, the second is preventable. We have an obligation to minimize, as much as we are able, abuse from happening in the first place.