Mennonite Church USA has named Nancy Kauffmann, former board president of Dove’s Nest and longtime Mennonite church leader, as interim denominational minister of church safety. This position was created to address the need for abuse education and prevention.
This need came after Dove’s Nest, an abuse prevention ministry, dissolved May 31. MC USA will use the name Safe Church to expand the work Dove’s Nest started, said Michael Danner, MC USA associate executive director for church vitality.
By Aug. 1, many of Dove’s Nest’s resources — including the “Circle of Grace” curriculum, guidelines for safe-space policies, consultation services and a speakers’ bureau — will be available on the MC USA website.
Born of a grassroots movement at MC USA’s 2009 convention, Dove’s Nest assisted faith communities in abuse awareness, prevention and response. It offered hundreds of churches, camps and other faith groups abuse prevention education, trainings, consultations and resources for developing safe-space policies.
“The church owes a debt of gratitude for the work of Dove’s Nest,” Danner said. “They have helped congregations become safer places for children and vulnerable adults. We are sad that Dove’s Nest lost the ability to sustain its present work. We are also committed to carrying forward the work of resourcing congregations and nonprofits around abuse prevention and education. We are excited to build on the foundation Dove’s Nest has built.”
Kauffmann said challenges due to the pandemic impacted the nonprofit’s ability to sustain its work. Dissolving the ministry “was a hard decision for the Dove’s Nest board, as we care deeply about the work of abuse prevention,” she said. “We are glad to see it continue in this new way.”
The Dove’s Nest board initiated conversations with Danner in late 2022. The Schowalter Foundation provided funding to help cover transition costs.
“The Dove’s Nest board is excited about MC USA’s level of commitment to supporting faith communities in keeping children, youth and vulnerable adults safe,” Kauffmann said.