When Safe Sanctuaries hit Home

Yesterday, I was confronted by an uncomfortable situation regarding my daughter.  I emphasize the word situation, because I was not confronted by uncomfortable people or uncomfortable groups of people.  My wife and I both had to be here at Pastor’s School, she to present and me to attend as per my ordination process.  What, then, shall we do with our daughter (5mos. old)?

When M. was phoned last week and asked to present, she told the organizer that she needed childcare.  He said that he would find one.  Not only did he find one, he found an excellent childcare provider: a woman who runs our very excellent Children’s Conference.  The only hitch was that I did not really know her, beyond her name.  I became very, very nervous.  I hadn’t given my daughter to anyone that either M. or I hadn’t screened ourselves.  M. was very busy trying to set-up for her presentation while giving our daughter to the childcare worker.  Of course, people were crowding around doing the look-at-baby thing.  The childcare worker told us where she was going to go with A. and I thought ‘There, alone, with my daughter?’  When it was just M, me, daughter and childcare worker, I spoke up.  I asked who was going to be with her, etc.  She assured me that she was Safe Sanctuaries trained.  I explained that I knew about that too and that I have no problem with her, but with simply not knowing her.  In a short conversation, she volunteered to go find another clergy wife to be with her.  Because she was Safe Sanctuaries trained, she understood my apprehension (I was almost nauseous with worry), and she knew what to do to allay my fears.  It was good all around: I practiced speaking up (when no one else seemed worried), she responded graciously and helpfully, M.’s presentation was good and daughter was okay.

I had helped train US-2s in Safe Sanctuaries in 2002 and heard Dr. Melton present on it at Shalom Summit.  But until I became a dad, I didn’t appreciate the fear that parents have for their children.  And until this week, I didn’t appreciate just how casually it happens that children can find themselves in unSafe Sanctuaries, especially among church-folk.  Arrogantly, I consider myself among the more aware people.  That was certainly true among the Pastor’s School folk.  I have been beside myself for two days, worrying about how many children are left vulnerable in our churches due to simple lack of diligence.  I really hope I am blowing this out of proportion, but I worry that I am not.

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