Will church ever be a safe place?

Although the Lutherans are having serious collapses on sexual immorality policy in regards to homosexuality, they seem to understand that sexual abuse of children deserves top attention and more than just religious platitudes. Their church-wide program Called to be a Safe Place is an sincere effort to deal with this problem that has gone on for much too long.

All forms of sexual misbehavior by clergy and lay leaders with church members are unacceptable within the life of the church. The church should be a safe place where people can worship, learn, work, love, and receive care in a manner that is free from sexual misconduct.

Early in the life of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, this church expressed clearly its intention to take whatever measures it could to help prevent sexual abuse and misconduct within the ELCA. In other words, the church is Called to be a Safe Place.

Some argue that people are responsible for their own actions. While that is true, it doesnt arbitrarily absolve the organization which liscensed or ordained the individual.

What I love best about the Safe Place program is that it allows average members of the ELCA to report sexual misconduct. Having a paper trail or an e-paper trail is important because oftimes the first response is denial or stonewalling when sexual abuse happens. This reporting system provides confidence to members that church leadership is serious and willing to hear their voices in the effort to protect the church’s children.

If your church denomination or organization does not have a visible, workable, positive solution like Safe Place, please contact your leaders and demand that they get the process moving. Be persistent and insist on a written response. Every church needs this because we can no longer assume that just because someone is a minister they will do what is right sexually.

If you are a denominational leader, we urge you to contact the ECLA’s Safe Space Program and inquire about duplicating the program in your church. Don’t the children deserve our protection?

Prevention of Sexual Misconduct
ELCA Vocation and Education Unit
8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631-4195

Toll-Free: 1-800-638-3522 ext. 2568
Local: 1-773-380-2568 or 1-610-308-3428
Fax: 1-773-380-2829

For general questions or comments, please contact SafePlace@elca.org.

Related articles:


4 thoughts on “Will church ever be a safe place?

  1. Dear Pastor Foster:

    As a grandfather of two boys, 6 and 3, there is no way that I
    could possibly trust their care to the church establishment:
    Lutheran or otherwise.

    With the persecution sure to come, we all may as well work
    on developing our little “house churches” — you men, bust out
    the Bibles, you will be teachers soon enough (James 3:1 or not).

    Thus keeping our small ones safe from Satan in the pulpit.

    This is a rhetorical question, Pastor, but why do we Christians
    so easily send our children into the groping clutches of pedophiles
    with vestments, and we won’t trust strangers at the corner



    PS: Keep up the good work, man. The Father be with us all.

  2. And that’s what I appreciate the most about you, Pastor.

    Sure, your wit is grand, your attitude is sometimes smarmy and your insight is blessed of God.

    But your ability to pick up on causes, promote them and shed the light on them just deserved is something not many people have the care or passion to do.

    Nicely done, sir.


  3. Pastor Foster, I dont thinkt he churches or denomination will ever be safe places. However, I do think the churches and denomination has a civil, legal, and biblical duty to protect children and vulnerable adults against clergy sexual abuse.

    I think parishoners also bears some responsibility to stay alert in churches. Like in the case against Sherman Allen and COGIC, there are many people who knows this man has a problem but some of them chose to stay quiet. If we’re to make a dent in this problem facing all churches and denominations we must all work together.

    I applauded you on keeping people inform about clergy sex abuse and other issues plaguing our churches pastor Foster.

Comments are closed.