"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them!
For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children." (Luke 18:16 NLT)
The 2021 Keeping CMC Safe (KCMCS) Training
At Columbus Mennonite Church, we want our children to be safe. One way that we support our children is through Keeping CMC Safe from Abuse: Policy for Protecting Children and Youth (KCMCS). We adopted this policy 15 years ago (2006) and we continue our commitment to keeping our children and youth safe from abuse.
As a part of the implementation of this policy, Leadership Team encourages all attendees to participate in the yearly training that is offered. We want all adults and youth to be familiar with our policy and be aware of other ways that we can keep our children and vulnerable persons safe.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. During our April 25th service, Dove's Nest co-founder and board member, Jeanette Harder, presented Children's Time and a Mission Moment to kick-off our KCMCS training. Dove’s Nest is a national nonprofit organization that empowers and equips faith communities to keep children and youth safe. CMC uses resources from Dove's Nest and supports them financially.
To complete this year's training:
All CMC attendees 18 years and older, please complete this year’s training (below) by May 25th. There are 3 steps to the training. Step 4 is the completion of the participation form or application to work with children. (All paid staff much complete application form).
Step 1. Please watch the video or read the manuscript by Scott Litwiller.
Step 2. Read the KCMCS policy and/or read the highlights.
Step 3. Read "When a child discloses, how to respond"
Step 4. Submit Participation Form. (Instructions after the training)
If you have any questions or want to talk about this training or the KCMCS policy, please contact Mim Halterman, KCMCS Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 1. Please watch or read the special presentation by Scott Litwiller.
Pastor Scott Litwiller did an internship with our church during the summer of 2019. Many of you will remember him. He recently joined the Dove’s Nest board of directors! Scott hails from central Illinois originally and most recently from northern Indiana, where he received his MDiv from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana. Scott is currently in Wichita, Kansas, where he is one of two pastors at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church and lives with his pandemic pup, Justice. He has a background in camping and pastoral ministries and a strong interest in intersectionality. When Scott is not working he enjoys long walks with Justice, binge-watching TV shows, and playing board games with friends.
This sermon/training was created specifically to commemorate that our congregation adopted our Keeping CMC Safe policy 15 years ago to honor of our children and youth.
Hello everyone! For anyone who doesn’t know me, my name is Scott Litwiller and I was the pastoral intern at Columbus Mennonite Church during the summer of 2019. Since leaving Columbus Mennonite I accepted a job as one of two pastors at Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church in Wichita, Kansas. I also very unexpectedly accepted a call to be on the Board of Directors at Dove’s Nest, which has been such a gift.
I am delighted, congregation that I love, to be able to come to you virtually in my role as a member of the board of Dove’s Nest to talk about the importance of child safety for your Keeping CMC Safe training.
As a pastor, I always like to look first to the Bible. There are some great stories there. Sadly, there aren’t as many stories about children in the Bible as I appreciate. However, one of my favorites is the gospel of Mark’s take on the question, “who is the greatest in the kin-dom of Heaven?” The passage goes...
Then they came to Capernaum; and when [Jesus] was in the house he asked [the disciples], “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” - Mark 9:33 – 37
Other gospels’ version of this story say that you must be like a little child to enter the kin-dom. This story is so powerful because it completely flips the script. In the social hierarchy the father was always the one in charge. Then, the mother, then the young children. Here Jesus is saying that we should strive to be like the children in our midst in order to be... worthy of the kin-dom.
Another thing that I love about this passage is that there is a child in the group of followers. Jesus doesn’t need to go searching for a child to use as a visual for his disciples because the kids are part of the group of disciples and are present to learn, and I would argue from this reading, to teach.
So what does it mean to be like a child? Some scholars believe it means we need to be obedient and subservient to God. Others though, and I will admit my bias, acknowledge the general mode of how children navigate the world around them. When you think of working with kids, what is one of the things that comes to mind for you? For me, it’s the question, “why?” Children are curious and want to understand this new big world they are part of. They ask questions and when they don’t understand, they ask why something is the way it is. They aren’t afraid to point out when something doesn’t make sense and isn’t fair. Sure, kids are innocent and obedient and they are inquisitive. We adults can learn from all these aspects of who children are in their own unique and important ways.
As I ponder what it means to be a congregation that values being a safe sanctuary one of the things that I am seeing is that we need to support those in our midst who need it. Because not every child is able to protect themself, we adults put these policies into place to ensure that our kids are safe.
We also put these policies and practices into place to keep ourselves safe. We flip the script to acknowledge just how important our kids are. They’re not just the church of the future. They’re the church of the now. We don’t do this to patronize or to say that they aren’t capable individuals. Rather, we know that we live in a world that doesn’t always have the same values that Christ did. The world doesn’t always give them same protections to all individuals. So, churches are in a role of being able to show how our values are not the same values of our society. We believe in an upside-down Kin-dom that values all humans, including those who society has said are less than.
This subversive kin-dom even takes it a step further to say that those humans who society has said are less than get to lead the way. Our churches value the voices coming from the margins and we are willing to learn from those who are often not seen as teachers, like our children. We have so much to learn.
So, way to go you subversive church. Thank you for taking this charge seriously and thank you for being so willing to care for the humans in your congregation. May you continue to see and also sense the presence of the Divine as you do this good work and may you follow in the footsteps of Jesus by welcoming the children in your midst as well as the God who sends.
Christ’s peace be with you all.
Step 2. Please read the Keeping CMC Safe Policy or the highlights below.
Highlights from our KCMCS Policy:
For onsite activities with children and youth:
1. At least two KCMCS trained and approved adults to supervise each activity. Persons 18 years or older are considered to be adults.
2. Eligibility is based on the following:
a. Volunteers must have regularly attended CMC for at least 6 months during the past 12 months. (Two Sundays/month for 6 months).
b. Volunteers who are sophomore age or older must have an application and memorandum of understanding on file. They also must participate in the annual training.
c. Persons supervising the activities of minors should be at least five years older than the oldest minor participating in the activity.
d. Volunteers must not have a previous history that precludes him/her from working with children.
e. Background checks are not required for onsite volunteers.
For offsite activities with children and youth:
1. At least two KCMCS trained and approved adults in each activity, except in the case of mentoring. Persons who are 18 years or older are considered to be adults.
2. Eligibility is based on the following:
a. Youth Sponsors must have regularly attended CMC for one year.
b. Mentors must have regularly attended CMC for two years.
c. Volunteers who are sophomore age or older must have an application and memorandum of understanding on file. They also must participate in the annual training.
d. Background checks are required for anyone involved with children/youth offsite.
e. Persons supervising the activities of minors should be at least five years older than the oldest minor participating in the activity.
f. Volunteers must have no previous history that precludes him/her from working with children.
Step 3. Please read When a child discloses, how to respond
To REPORT Child Abuse or Neglect at Columbus Mennonite Church contact a member of the Response Team: Scott Applegate (Leadership Team), Julie Hostetler (CMC Member | social worker), Jim Leonard (CMC Member | attorney), Joel Miller (Pastor), Erin Neese (Shepherding Commission)
Concerns about Clergy Misconduct. If you have concerns about sexual abuse in the ministerial relationship involving any Mennonite pastor, call 800-662-2264 (Central District Conference Office).
Thank you for completing the training.
Step 4. Upon completion of the training:
1. Please submit the participation form below OR
2. If you wish to work with children, submit a new Volunteer Application for 2021. (Those that are employeed by the church must submit the Application).
To access the 2021 Volunteer Application:
· Complete and submit application.
· If this is your first application, you will receive a request for three references after submission of your form.
Resources used in development of this training
Dove's Nest is a Mennonite organization that seeks to keep children and youth in faith communities safe. We are grateful to have them as a resource to access materials and speakers. Please check out their website and contact them to receive their monthly newsletter.
Dove's Nest presented Columbus Mennonite Church with the Dove's Nest Finalist Award at the Orlando 2017 MC USA Convention for our Keeping CMC Safe program. In 2018, we received a $350 Safe Church Grant through Everence, which was promoted on Dove's Nest website.
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