This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Sexual abuse prevention panel formed

Photo: Delegates at the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City this summer passed a Churchwide Statement on Sexual Abuse. Now a panel will continue the work laid out in the statement. 

In response to the Churchwide Statement on Sexual Abuse, which was passed by the Delegate Assembly of Mennonite Church USA at its biennial convention in Kansas City this summer, the Executive Board staff cabinet has called together a panel to continue the work of healing and prevention of sexual abuse within the denomination. The cabinet includes Ervin Stutzman, executive director; Glen Guyton, chief operating officer; Shelley Buller, executive assistant; Janie Beck Kreider, communications project director; Iris de Leon-Hartshorn, director of transformative peacemaking; and Terry Shue, director of leadership development.

The panel will work together over the next two years to carry out the commitments described in the churchwide statement.

Their tasks include:

  • developing a monitoring tool for agency reviews that would evaluate for clear, accessible and public policies on sexual harassment and abuse.
  • developing educational tools and resources for raising awareness about religious teachings that make it difficult for victims to protect themselves or speak up when they have been violated and hurt.
  • developing a tool for agencies on how to interview victims when they lodge a complaint.
  • meeting with leaders of Mennonite Education Agency and Mennonite colleges/universities specifically regarding their sexual abuse prevention and response policies and practices, and  establishing processes for ongoing monitoring.
  • developing educational materials and/or providing resources to help congregations better understand the realities of sexualized violence by church leaders and other trusted individuals.
  • developing guidelines for preaching and worship practices that are sensitive to the needs of victims and survivors.

Members of the panel:

  • Anna Groff, Tucson, Arizona, executive director of Dove’s Nest
  • Maribel Hinojosa, College Station, Texas, clinical psychologist in private practice
  • Regina Shands Stoltzfus, Goshen, Indiana, assistant professor of peace, justice and conflict studies at Goshen College
  • Ross Erb, Harrisonburg, Virginia, social worker at the Collins Center
  • Nancy Kauffmann, Elkhart, Indiana, denominational minister for Mennonite Church USA
  • David Miller, Elkhart, Indiana, associate professor of missional leadership development at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary
  • Jennifer Castro, San Antonio, Texas, coordinator of the Women in Leadership Project for Mennonite Church USA and staff support for the panel

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