So much of the news of late highlighted the tenuous balance between safety and risk. Personally, I find the destruction caused by violent weather upsetting but not unexpected. As a long time “East-coaster,” much of my personal history has been punctuated by the devastation of hurricanes: Hazel (1954) was the first I remember living through, but many other names bring to mind torrent and destruction witnessed firsthand: Hugo, Andrew, Bertha, Floyd among others more recent. Destructive, disruptive, disastrous, but not unanticipated – nature is capricious and unpredictable and will, from time to time, wreak havoc on the earth.
However, as saddened as I am by loss generated by events natural, I find myself horrified by the aberrant behavior of those who violate the safety of others for personal gratification. The worst of these, in my opinion, are those who have committed despicable acts violating the physical safety of others, both children and adults, in the setting of the church.
It seems to be a rule that all good things can be perverted by people diseased in mind and spirit and the revelations of abuse exercised in houses of worship are an indication that the safety and sanctity of sacred space cannot be assumed but must be proactively guarded and vigilantly defended.
The Episcopal Church has in recent years been more aggressive in providing resources for training those who work with vulnerable populations, especially children, as well as mandating extensive background checks for those seeking positions of leadership in our common life. Cognizant of the ever present potential for risk, rules and guidelines have been established for the instruction of young persons and methods of engagement with the vulnerable.
Here at St. Luke’s, every person who is involved in The Ark, our program of spiritual enrichment for children, has been instructed to undergo the Safe Church Training offered by the Diocese of Oregon. As part of our commitment to maintaining the safety and integrity of our parish for all persons regardless of age, gender, orientation, race or social status, the Vestry has also been instructed to undertake the same training.
Now, as a sign of our solidarity with those who stand for the safety and integrity of all persons, I would like to invite each member of our parish family to participate in this training as well. It is a simple thing to do – the Diocese of Oregon provides free online Safe Church Training to all interested persons. The program consists of a number of modules which cover everything from maintaining the safety of children to preventing sexual harassment and sexual exploitation to the safe use of social media.
Would you commit to asserting the safety of our parish church? Upon the completion of each module, participants can to print our a certification of their completion of the training. I can think of no better adornment for a congregation than a wall displaying certificates that display the commitment of a people to the safety of others. We just happen to have a wall available where the certificates of those who have undergone the training will be displayed!
To take the online training, simply go to https://www.diocese-oregon.org/ministries/safe-church/ on your computer, and scroll down to the blue button that says “Online Training.” It will cost you nothing but some time but will proclaim our commitment to respecting the dignity of every human being.
On Wednesday, September 26, you are encouraged to join the members of St. Luke’s Vestry for an hour long discussion of the current state of the church, the prospects for congregational leadership, our financial health and the status of our search process. The gathering will be held in the Birch Room at 7:00 pm immediately following our Wednesday service of Holy Communion and Healing.
The Vestry is acutely aware that its work is not often seen by the congregation as a whole and would like to take this opportunity to acquaint members of the church with the benefits of parish leadership.
During the month of October, our Adult Forum will explore Evelyn Underhill’s classic work, The Spiritual Life. Of this long cherished work, Google Books states,
With succinctness and clarity, Underhill sets out to describe the mystical experience of humanity for ordinary people. From uplifting discussion on the nature of prayer to explorations of humanity’s true–spiritual–purpose in life, she paints a vivid picture of the riches that lie ahead on the road less traveled.
Copies of the Book will be available for participants on Sunday, September 30.
LOOKING AHEAD: Bishop Michael Hanley will be with us on Sunday December 9. He will spend time with the Vestry, with our children in The Ark, but even more importantly, confirm and receive into the Episcopal Church those who elect to make an adult commitment to the Christian Faith in the Episcopal Church. If you have not been confirmed in a branch of the catholic faith, or if you have yet to be received into the Episcopal Church, this is a perfect opportunity to formalize your relationship with St. Luke’s.
During the month of November, Doug Scott will be conducting classes on Wednesday evenings to prepare inquirers for Confirmation, Reception, and Baptism. It will also be a perfect opportunity for long time members to have a “refresher” on the fundamentals of our faith. Talk to Doug if you would like to know more.