From curriculum to call lines, churches focus on safety and prevention.
When Fabian Beck volunteered to help with the children’s ministry at his small evangelical church on the outskirts of Hanover, Germany, he imagined he’d be singing songs, telling Bible stories, and performing puppet shows.
He had no idea what he could do to protect Sunday school children from the possibility of sexual abuse. As he prepared to join the team, however, he came across resources provided by the Federation of Free Evangelical Churches (FeG) on the subject of violence against children and adolescents in the context of Christian communities like his own.
“Believers have to face the fact that our congregations are not safe just because they are full of Christians,” Beck said. “Safe places for kids don’t come naturally, and too often, we don’t know what we don’t know.”
Andreas Schlüter, the FeG’s federal secretary for the young generation, said the program Beck is using, “Protect and Accompany,” is part a much larger trend among free churches organizing against abuse. Evangelical churches are developing programs to face the reality of sexual abuse and seeking to prevent it from happening in the future.
“I know that in Germany, every free church is actively tackling the issue,” he said. “Free evangelical congregations should be, or become, safe places for children and young people.”
In recent years, child sex abuse cases have been extensively reported across multiple Roman Catholic dioceses in Europe. Spurred by these revelations, Catholics have takensteps in France, Portugal, Germany, and Italy to prevent abuse. Pope Francis, for example, removed the option for pontifical secrecy from cases involving the mistreatment of …