Monday, November 28, 2016

Leading with Care

Leading with Care is a policy of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, designed to keep everyone, especially children, youth and vulnerable adults safe in our church buildings and our church programs.  

The policy has been in effect at SPPC for several years. I first became aware of it when  the minister, elders, Sunday School teachers and others working with children were required to have a police check. Not something we usually associate with church membership but in our world it is a fact of life that volunteers must be screened.  

Since the implementation of Leading with Care by the national church, session members and other leaders receive training and support in all aspects of the policy.  A few of the most obvious measures include:

  • Guidelines for our facilities.  Rev. Irwin mentioned fire drill a few weeks ago.  
  • We keep a first aid kit, well-stocked and accessible. 
  • We have the AED (automated external defibrillator) hanging in the narthex. 
  •  Chairs, pews and other furnishings are kept in good repair to avoid hazards.  
  • Fire extinguishers are in plain sight.
  • Exits are clearly marked.  
  • Reminders about hand washing are posted in the kitchen and washrooms.
Most of these matters just seem like good housekeeping, but the Leading With Care program provides our session with a handy checklist and guidelines to ensure safety is everyone's priority.

In the secular world, landlords are required by law to provide and maintain a safe, physical environment.  In our Christian practice, the requirement goes beyond the standards of the law, striking to the heart of who we are as followers of Christ.  As the body of Christ, the church must do all in its power to follow His example,  to protect the vulnerable, to welcome them into fellowship, and to learn from them. 
Here is a quote from the preamble of the policy as posted on the Presbyterian Church in Canada website. 

The policy is titled Leading with Care because:
• our Lord modelled for us how to lead with care as He healed the sick and infirm,and welcomed the young, the weak, and the vulnerable
• it is our awareness that some people in our church need special protection
• it affirms our commitment to training and supporting teachers and leaders in our churches so that children/youth/vulnerable adults will grow in faith and the love of Christ in a climate of safety.
In Leading with Care there is a dual focus of safety and prevention, and training and support of teachers/leaders. In creating a safe environment, the church protects people,prevents abuse, and, if necessary, reports abuse. Through training, support and evaluation.

If you want to read the entire policy and checklists, go here.  They are available as downloads to your own computer.  You can also order a written copy.

Leaders in our congregation have undertaken a responsibility laid on them not only by the church but by scripture. 

 So keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock which the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he made his own through the blood of his Son.
Acts 20:28 (GNT)

 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.  Eph.4:11-12 (ESV)

Let us all encourage our elders as they undertake the work of Leading with Care in this congregation.

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