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Church may be designed to be a place where you are challenged and made to feel uncomfortable, but not when it comes to sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, as recent news would indicate and as Rev. Dale Ingraham has noted, the church has historically not always provided a safe place for survivors of abuse.

The Curtis Baptist Bible Church pastor in Campbell, N.Y. was supported in his comment by President of Willow Creek Association (WCA) Tom DeVries.

"The church is not immune, and it is not innocent," DeVries stated in an online video, announcing the organization's new efforts to engage with the #metoo movement that has been prevalent in North America over the past year.

Offering personal healing, public inquiry, and scrutiny, as DeVries explained, the #metoo movement has and continues to call for change in power dynamics, gender equality, and issues of sexual harassment and abuse.

DeVries says that the church has suffered its own stories and experiences of sexual abuse, both within its doors and at the hands of its leaders, and is working to address those issues and pursue healing with a new combination of ministry and #metoo.

"It's not been a banner that we've previously carried," shared DeVries. "When it touched us deeply, we began to roll back the edges and peel back the layers."

In March 2018, the issues of sexual abuse and misconduct placed the organization under public scrutiny when allegations were made against WCA chairman of the board Bill Hybels.

"When we open ourselves to the extent of sexual misconduct, harassment, abuse, and violence around us," DeVries said, "we see with the eyes of Christ the devastating effects upon women, upon men, upon girls, upon boys. It has brought lifetimes of pain, years of trauma, and daily experiences of fear and distrust."

A group of seven experts, including Rev. Ingraham, assisted in the development of what WCA is calling Ministry & #MeToo: A Learning Journey for Leaders.

The resource, according to WCA, was designed to address the most frequent questions heard from their community, regarding victims and survivors within a faith community and how leaders should respond when dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct. The series consists of three chapters with a total of eight episodes ranging from 21-46 minutes and viewable within both individual and group settings.

DeVries cautions that this is not something Willow Creek Association and the Church should be trying to get through and move on from; rather, he encourages an ongoing discussion within the church to address issues of abuse from this point on.

"With awareness comes responsibility, and once you know, you can't turn back."

Find more information and access to WCA's Ministry & #MeToo learning resources here.

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