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Cultivating Sanctuary: A conversation on preventing and responding to sexual misconduct by church leaders

October 6, 2022

Offered in partnership w/ New Leaf Network

Thursdays: September 8, 15, 22, 29 & October 6 2022

1:30 – 3pm ET or 7:30 – 9pm ET

Disclosures of sexual misconduct and sexual abuse by church leaders, particularly in evangelical circles, are rising. Each new report makes it devastatingly clear that we, the body of Christ, have a problem we must confront and resolve in order to better protect members and respond well to sexual misconduct. When sexual misconduct by a church leader occurs, many ministry leaders and volunteer boards discover, too late, that they have not been adequately equipped to prevent or navigate through the complexities.

We invite you to join us this September, for a 5-part New Leaf Learning Centre series in partnership with the Mennonite Central Committee. Guided by the expertise of the MCC presenters, together we will learn what the Church can do to help prevent church leader sexual abuse and cultivate sanctuary for church members.

This practical equipping Learning Centre series is specifically designed for pastors, staff teams, church board members, ministry leaders and lay leaders.

These sessions will offer:

  • definitions for what constitutes church leader sexual misconduct including why and how it occurs.

  • best practices in developing policies for abuse prevention, and disclosure response.

  • conversation around the complex topics of responding to situations of harm, power and healthy boundaries, church culture, and healthy masculinity.

  • opportunities for facilitated conversations with other like-minded Jesus followers who desire to learn about this important topic

  • Q&A with our expert presenters

New Leaf’s intention has always been, and will always be, to serve the church in Canada. We desire a healthy, innovative, and Jesus-centered future for the body of Christ. It is our sincere desire we will all leave this series with practical knowledge and tools for harm prevention in our communities of faith.

We believe this shared conversation is so vital and timely for the church in Canada that we’re offering these learning sessions in both the afternoon and evening.

The Learning Centre sessions are recorded and made available for all those who may have to miss one of the sessions.


Why Does Clergy Misconduct Happen?

September 8 – Elsie Goerzen (MCC BC)

In this introduction session, Elsie will discuss what clergy misconduct is and why it happens. Through stories and real-life examples, participants will be able to deepen their understanding of these complex situations.

Responding to Situations of Harm

September 15 – Heather Peters (MCC SK)

Oh no!! Now what?! How can churches best respond when there has been misconduct or abuse by a church leader? What will happen in a church that is experiencing a situation of clergy misconduct? How can a faith community appropriately support each other during a divisive crisis? Come explore these questions and more in session 2.

Abuse Prevention (part 1): Church Culture

September 22 – Val Peters Hiebert (MCC MB)

Does the culture we teach, preach and model in our churches give space for conversations on sexuality, gender, abuse, power, and patriarchy? How could we do this better and will it prevent abuse from occurring? Val will bring research and stories to this session on abuse prevention.

Abuse Prevention (part 2): Healthy Masculinity

September 29 – Rod Friesen (MCC ON) with Don Neufeld

Will a deeper understanding of masculinity be effective in abuse prevention? Rod and Don will highlight resources and experiences of success they have had in discussing healthy masculinity within the church.

Power and Healthy Boundaries

October 6 – Jaymie Friesen (MCC MB)

Clergy misconduct is an abuse of power when people in leadership do not practice healthy boundaries. In this session Jaymie will bring her experience as an advocate to survivors of abuse in the church to explore the importance of deeply understanding power and boundaries as key attributes for all church leaders.


October 6, 2022
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