Making Church Safer - Kuyper Grad Confronts Abuse In The Church
As stories of abuse and brokenness within the church continue to emerge, one Kuyper College grad is working toward justice and prevention. Eric Kas (’12) serves the Christian Reformed Church of North America as a Safe Church Ministry consultant. The Safe Church Ministry is an initiative by the CRC that aims to equip congregations in abuse awareness, prevention and response. “I believe that abuse affects us all, both in major, visible ways and in unaccountable, invisible ways, as we all cope with a world that is not the way it is supposed to be,” Eric said. Safe Church’s goal is to help build spiritual communities where the value of each person is honored and where they are able to worship and grow free from abuse.
In Eric’s role with Safe Church, he consults with congregations, providing assistance and support when abuse or allegations of abuse arise. He also coaches and provides resources that educate churches and ministries in restorative practices. In doing so, he works alongside other Safe Church coordinators and teams across the CRC. “When someone comes forward with a disclosure or allegation of abuse, we have what’s called the advisory panel process. Five people listen to both the claimant of abuse and also the person who is being accused. They give a report to the council so they can then make a decision,” he said.
Dealing with abuse after it has occurred is just one part of the work that Safe Church does, however. “We try to focus on prevention,” Eric noted. One important way this is accomplished is through webinars and YouTube videos. Safe Church uses these methods to discuss issues such as dynamics of power and having a trauma-informed understanding of the church. “I think that, if church leaders better understood trauma, it would drastically change how churches operate and help create safe spaces for every person, no matter what their story is,” he said.
Eric believes that preventing and dealing justly with abuse is central to the message of the Gospel and the life of the church.