Children’s Dove Award Winners

North Goshen Mennonite Church received the first-ever Children’s Dove Award from Dove’s Nest at the Mennonite Church USA Orlando 2017 Convention during a reception on Wednesday, July 5.

This award was created by the Dove’s Nest board to recognize a Mennonite Church USA individual or church that did something courageous to keep children safe. 

The individual who nominated North Goshen highlighted the following ways the church has made significant efforts toward keeping children safe: 

  • North Goshen Mennonite Church actively pursued the resources provided by Dove’s Nest, not only for Circle of Grace materials but also for child abuse education and social media and technology education training.
  • They reached out to their community by hosting community training events, bringing in attendees from a diverse group of church members and youth workers across a variety of faith groups and agencies, in addition to educating their own congregation.

The Children’s Dove Award committee was impressed with two other strong nominees and recognized those at the reception— Columbus Mennonite Church in Ohio and Salford Mennonite Church in Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

The person who nominated Columbus Mennonite Church highlighted the following ways the church has made significant efforts to keep children safe: 

  • Columbus Mennonite put together a special children and youth protection web page, along with providing other resources and training for volunteers.
  • They also organized a Keeping Columbus Mennonite Church Safe (KCMCS) training.
  • They have prioritized this subject as a church throughout the year.  

The person who nominated Salford highlighted the following ways the church has made significant efforts toward this goal: 

  • Salford Mennonite had a service to prepare for Child Abuse Prevention Month. This service reflected on the journey of abuse and healing in light of the passage in Ezekiel 37 about the Valley of Dry Bones.
  • Prior to the sermon, four people read “Words of Lament” submitted by four survivors. Following the sermon, four people read “Words of Hope” that had been submitted.
  • What they did took courage and much planning.

Nancy Kauffmann, Dove’s Nest board member and member of the award committee, said, “Amidst crises in the denomination and beyond related to sexual abuse and misconduct, it is important to recognize the positive efforts many individuals and churches are making to keeping children safe. This award demonstrates how far many churches have come in recognizing abuse and prioritizing education and prevention.”

Pictured, Left to Right: Joe Hackman, lead pastor at Salford Mennonite Church; Joel Miller, pastor of Columbus Mennonite Church; Mark Schloneger, lead pastor North Goshen Mennonite Church; Izaete Nafziger, pastor of community service and outreach at North Goshen MC. 

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