As a denomination, we have designated the fourth Sunday in September Abuse Awareness Sunday. We invite every congregation to plan their worship service, litany, and sermon/message around the theme of abuse awareness. Feel free to also observe Abuse Awareness Sunday on a day that works best for your congregation’s liturgical calendar. You can view more information about special Sundays at crcna.org/ChurchYear.
The abuse awareness topic for 2023 is The Power of Trauma-Informed Ministry.
“But I don’t feel safe.” That is what she said after leaving her abusive husband while sitting in a domestic violence shelter. She was protected by a restraining order and the shelter’s bullet proof glass, alarms, and surveillance. Safety measures did not matter to her. She was physically safe, but her body did not allow her to feel safe. That is what trauma does. And we, as the Church, can no longer say “these things don’t happen here.” They do.
We want our churches and ministry places to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually safe places because feeling safe and being safe is imperative for those that have experienced trauma. Being trauma informed means utilizing a framework to support policies, practices, and procedures that adequately meet the needs for the vast amount of people that have experienced trauma.
Let’s use our power to become trauma-informed by using the four following R’s*:
Realizing the frequency and pervasiveness of trauma.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms associated with trauma.
Responding by integrating knowledge into policy, practices, and procedures.
Resisting Re-Traumatization, let’s not harm them or their families again.
Artwork: Mystic Apple by Lorraine Roy, 2022
*Dr. Tara Boer’s article Becoming a Trauma-Informed Church (tinyurl.com/mp56prvv) refers congregations to SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) identification of the four “R’s” of what it means to be trauma informed.
For a projection image to use during a Sunday Worship, this slide was created to introduce the abuse awareness topic.
If your Christian Reformed congregation would like to order the 2023 Abuse Awareness Sunday Flyer/ bulletin Insert for free, you may do so at the links below, they are available in English, Spanish and Korean.
Every other month we send out Safe Church Community News—it's one way we share about the many movements of Safe Church. Hopefully it will inspire you to live out this ministry in your local context. View the most recent issues and subscribe.