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Dove's Nest Blog

Honoring the Power of Worship

By Hilary J. Scarsella

For the last several years, I have been talking with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse about how the worship and teachings of their faith communities impacted their experiences of abuse, its traumatic consequences, and their ability to eventually seek recovery.

A commitment to keeping children safe in communities of faith surely includes implementing child protection policies and educating ourselves to recognize signs of abuse and neglect. 

Trust but Verify

By Jeanette Harder

“We’re family here.”

While we may not say that aloud, it is often what we think when we’re presented with the notion of screening church volunteers. Or perhaps we don’t think about screening at all—we just have spots to fill in our church, and we do everything we can to find volunteers to fill them.

South Dakota Churches Host Dove’s Nest Workshop

panel

By Lerace Graber, Salem Mennonite Church. Reposted by permission from Scattered Seeds (October 2015)

A workshop, Keeping Children Safe in Faith Communities, was held at Salem Mennonite Church, Freeman, South Dakota, on September 12, 2015, with Dr. Jeanette Harder from Dove’s Nest of Omaha, Nebraska, as facilitator.  

There were approximately forty people attending, representing six area churches. The first part of the morning began with Dr. Harder explaining why it is so important that children feel safe in our churches and that it is up to the adults to make sure church is safe.

The second half of the morning was a panel discussion with Dr. Harder as moderator, asking prepared questions of four local people representing South Dakota organizations that work with children in a variety of ways.  

Q&A: An Interview with a Mennonite Pastor

Here is a Q&A with a Mennonite Church USA pastor conducted in September 2015.

1. Please describe the situation at your Mennonite church:
In the spring, Daniel*, who was a new attendee to the church, had an interaction with a couple of our elementary school-age girls that raised yellow flags. He approached them and asked to shake hands. One of the girls refused, saying that he was a stranger. He replied that he wasn’t a stranger, but a member of their church. Then he reached out and tickled her. The girls immediately left the area.  

Another parent observed the incident and informed me about it. At that time, I immediately talked to all the parents involved. They talked to their daughters, who told the same story and said it felt uncomfortable. I also made sure to ask the parents if the girls were okay; they said they were.

We Can't Turn Away From Tamar's Story

Jennifer Davis Sensenig

By Jennifer Davis Sensenig

Why is this even in the Bible? It’s terrible. Amnon’s rape of his half sister Tamar (II Samuel 13:1–22) is part of King David’s family story. I don’t like this episode. Yet I’m grateful to God that we have this account of a rape and family violence.

Although originating in an ancient patriarchal context and compromised by ruthless competition within a royal dynasty, this story exposes dynamics of sexualized violence and abuse that affect lives in our families and our church today.

Dove's Nest Develops Speaker's Bureau, Expands Trainings

Speaker's Bureau

As part of its ministry, Dove’s Nest offers trainings and resources on a variety of topics related to child and youth protection.

In January 2015, Dove’s Nest created a national Speaker’s Bureau of highly qualified members who are available to train across North America. The speakers hail from Pennsylvania to California, and many locations in between. They offer a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, and expertise relevant to children and youth safety in faith communities.

Implications of the Sexual Abuse Resolution from Mennonite Church USA

Anna Groff

 By Anna Groff

We at Dove’s Nest are thankful for this new resolution from Mennonite Church USA: Churchwide Statement on Sexual Abuse.

Mennonite Church USA delegates passed the resolution this summer at their churchwide convention in Kansas City. (Mennonite Church USA is the denomination from which Dove’s Nest grew out of in 2009.) We believe that a document like this is a significant first step in addressing the need for abuse prevention in church settings.

Five discoveries about Amish families, communities

By Jeanette Harder, Dove's Nest Board President

As a representative of Dove’s Nest, I was invited by the New York Office of Children & Family Services (OCFS) to help them relate to the growing population of Amish and Old Order Mennonites in their state.

While two-thirds of the Amish live in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, they are also rapidly growing in Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kentucky. In fact, the Amish are growing faster than nearly any other subgroup in the U.S., with a population of 300,000 currently and some projecting that number reaching 1 million by 2050.

My New Role and Signs of Hope

By Anna Groff, Executive Director

When I share with people about my new role with Dove’s Nest, I hear everything from, “I thought child protection policies were required for all churches”—from someone in Pennsylvania, a state with new laws for all volunteers working with children—to “I didn’t know abuse happened in churches.” 

While we all wish the second comment were true, we know it isn’t.

Learning the Limits of Background Screening

By Michael Crosby

A thorough background screening process is a critical component of any set of Safe Church practices.

The experts are unanimous on this point: social workers, lawyers, liability specialists, law enforcement, and child safety professionals all commend background screening procedures to churches and other organizations whose workers—paid and/or volunteer—interact with minors. Good practice includes contacting personal references, verifying employment history (especially when considering candidates for a paid position), and conducting a criminal records check. This last item is the focus of this article.

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