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Dove's Nest Blog

Resting in Shalom


I live in South-Central Elkhart, Indiana, once a vibrant and safe African American community—a community where everyone looked out for each other. In the wake of our new crisis, I find myself dreaming of what our community used to be and how we can get back to it.

Examples of Worship Practices that Use Consent

As a member of the board of Dove’s Nest, an independent Anabaptist nonprofit working to protect children from all types of child abuse and neglect, I’ve become more and more aware of the ways humans experience touch, and the sensitivity that all Christians are called to use when touching one another.

As a pastor, I’m aware of the ways my touch matters: laying on of hands for the sick, blessing new babies, hugs of greeting, passing the peace, baptizing people, anointing, footwashing and more.

Book Supports Plain Community Abuse Awareness

Jeanette Harder had not even received a printed copy of her new book when she learned that 740 fresh-off-the-press copies had been handed out at a conference. 

Dr. Harder, cofounder of Dove’s Nest, authored For the Sake of a Child: Love, Safety, and Abuse in Our Plain Communities (Ridgeway Publishing, 2019) with Allen Hoover, a horse-and-buggy Old Order Mennonite.

Four Ways to Support a Child Survivor of Abuse

1. Address the survivors’ and all other children’s physical and body safety first. Children, youth, and adults should practice consent in all areas of their lives. Consent is an active, voluntary verbal agreement. It means asking before giving a hug. It means listening to a “no.” It means respecting children’s boundaries and finding ways to connect with them that do not necessarily involve physical interaction. (Dove’s Nest offers a variety of different trainings on healthy boundaries and consent.)

Guidelines for Healthy Relationships

Human warmth, expressed through appropriate touch, can foster a sense of acceptance, belonging, and significance. Inappropriate touch can create feelings of violation, confusion, and isolation, which leave lasting scars. It is the responsibility of staff and volunteers to maintain appropriate boundaries; this is not the responsibility of children, youth, or vulnerable persons.

The following are examples of ways in which staff and volunteers can show warmth to children, youth, or vulnerable persons while protecting their own integrity.