Alum of Goshen College (’73) and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (’82) named interim denominational minister of Church Safety, continues abuse prevention work


originally published by Mennonite Church USA

ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA) — Mennonite Church USA has named Nancy Kauffmann, former board president of Dove’s Nest and longtime Mennonite church leader, as the interim denominational minister of Church Safety for MC USA’s Church Vitality office, effective June 26, 2023. This new position was created so that the denomination could address the need for continued abuse education and prevention work.

This need came after Dove’s Nest, an abuse prevention ministry, dissolved May 31, 2023. MC USA will use the name Safe Church to continue and to expand on the work that Dove’s Nest started, according to Michael Danner, MC USA associate executive director of Church Vitality. By August 1, many of Dove’s Nest’s resources, including the “Circle of Grace” curriculum, guidelines for setting up safe space policies, consultation services and a speakers’ bureau will be available on the MC USA website.

Borne of a grassroots movement at MC USA’s 2009 convention, Dove’s Nest assisted faith communities in abuse awareness, prevention and response. It offered hundreds of churches, camps and other faith groups abuse prevention education, trainings, consultations and resources for developing safe space policies.

“The church owes a debt of gratitude for the work of Dove’s Nest,” said Danner.

“They have helped congregations become safer places for children and vulnerable adults. We are sad that Dove’s Nest lost the ability to sustain its present work. We are also committed to carrying the work of resourcing congregations and nonprofits around abuse prevention and education forward. We are excited to build on the foundation Dove’s Nest has built,” he said.

Kauffmann explained that the pandemic brought challenges, many of which impacted the nonprofit’s ability to sustain its work.

“This was a hard decision for the Dove’s Nest board, as we care deeply about the work of abuse prevention,” said Kauffmann. “We are glad to see it continue in this new way.” Dove Nest’s bylaws stated that if Dove’s Nest were to dissolve, all money and resources were to go to MC USA. The Dove’s Nest board initiated conversations with Danner in late 2022. The Schowalter Foundation provided funding to help cover transition costs.

“The Dove’s Nest board is excited about MC USA’s level of commitment to supporting faith communities in keeping children, youth and vulnerable adults safe,” said Kauffmann. “The Church Vitality office has the infrastructure and tools to strengthen the work that was begun by Dove’s Nest.”

Mennonite Church USA is the largest Mennonite denomination in the United States with 16 conferences, approximately 517 congregations and almost 52,000 members. An Anabaptist Christian denomination, MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 59 countries. It has offices in Elkhart, Indiana and Newton, Kansas.

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