In 2018, the Reformed Church in America put forward the We Are Speaking statement, calling the church to end sexual harassment, abuse, and violence against women and girls. It is a call to listen, to speak, and to take action. Now, five years after the publication of the statement, the work of ending abuse, violence, and harassment continues. The following resources are intended to equip individuals, churches, and faith communities to take action: to understand, talk about, and work toward ending sexual harassment, abuse, and violence, and to support survivors and create safe spaces.
Resources were recommended and reviewed by the Reformed Church in America’s Women’s Transformation and Leadership ministry team in conjunction with the denomination’s Commission for Women and the Commission on History.
Resource collections for addressing sexual abuse and creating safe spaces
“When the church addresses harassment, abuse, and sexual violence with care in the context of worship, the church enters into the work of healing in Christ,” says April Fiet, copastor of First Presbyterian Church of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. This collection of worship resources does just that by providing guidelines to ensure a safe and healing place for survivors of sexual abuse and violence, as well as sample sermons, full worship service outlines, and suggested songs for use in a congregational setting.
This comprehensive list of guidelines offers ways that individuals and churches can help foster places of hope, safety, and healing for survivors of sexual abuse, violence, and harassment. There are tips for engaging in conversations around trauma and abuse, for addressing sexual abuse and violence in worship, and for preventing sexual harassment and abuse in your church and community.
As part of their Safe Church Ministry, the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) offers this toolkit that covers abuse prevention, abuse awareness, and abuse response. Housed in this resource collection are a safe church assessment, guidelines for writing and implementing a church policy, resources by topic (within abuse), a “responding to abuse” toolkit for churches, and more.
On the “largest portal of egalitarian resources,” CBE International offers hundreds of resources related to sexual abuse. Videos, audio interviews, and articles cover everything from “Men and Women Leading Together: Creating Safe and Thriving Mixed-Gender Partnerships” to “Theology in Practice: The Image of God and Domestic Violence.”
Books for kids that establish boundaries and encourage positive self-image
This short picture book features beautiful, watercolor illustrations and simple, direct language to highlight the importance of consent and body autonomy. “In our home, we talk a lot about our bodies and their boundaries,” says Katlyn DeVries, an ordained minister and writing assistant at Western Theological Seminary. “‘My body is my body,’ we say when my 5-year-old doesn’t want to be tickled anymore or when I just want some space on my own lap! But I love to snuggle up with my kids to read this book.”
This picture book is a lovely read, not only for girls but also for boys. It’s important for all children to see illustrations that celebrate girls in their growing and thriving, even as the central message—you are enough—applies to all young readers.
This picture book features beautiful illustrations with the central message that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. When kids hear a message that is for them, while seeing pictures of a girl who is like them in so many ways, they see in a subtle way that God’s dreams are for each and all of us.
A great book for girls who love to hear stories of women doing amazing things! This book focuses on 12 women of faith, both in Scripture and throughout history.
This beautiful picture book expands the metaphors in Scripture that describe God—an eagle, a strong fort, a candle flame, a father and a mother—to show kids that God is even bigger and closer than we sometimes assume.
Books that elevate women’s experiences and challenge masculine narratives
This book is a three-in-one resource that equips pastors and church leaders to 1) understand and address domestic abuse, 2) create safe spaces, and 3) respond well to reports of abuse. Created to Thrive contains the voices of experts and faith leaders who boldly dig into the consequences of devaluing women and the ways that theology can perpetuate abuse. As Dr. Ron Pierce, professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University), says, “This is a resource long overdue that addresses a critical need in the evangelical church. It is at the same time a healing ointment for past wounds and preventive medicine for the future.”
In this book, Winner writes about less commonly referenced metaphors for God that we find in Scripture, such as clothing, vine tender, or a laboring woman. This helps readers recognize that God is more than Father or ruler or judge, metaphors that are typically assumed to be masculine.
Get ready for transformation as you dive into this book! “This fervent, bold, and sweeping history of Christianity and patriarchy is an absolute game changer,” says Kristin Kobes Du Mez, New York Times bestselling author (Jesus and John Wayne) and professor of history and gender studies (Calvin University). Barr covers Greek grammar, church history, and human civilization to show that “biblical womanhood—the belief that God designed women to be submissive wives, virtuous mothers, and joyful homemakers” is not actually biblical.
Prey Tell is “an absolute must-read book for our age, breathing courage into survivor and ally alike–reminding the world that silence is not spiritual, and action is not optional,” says Belinda Bauman, author of Brave Souls: Experiencing the Audacious Power of Empathy and cofounder of #SilenceIsNotSpiritual. It is a personal and thought-provoking read that looks at women and men in work settings, both in the church and beyond, considering the dynamics of power and the ways abuse is in many of the world’s systems. By the end of the book, readers will be convicted to stand with women and to advocate for justice and healing.
This fantastic read is informative, useful, and essential reading for people committed to coming alongside survivors of abuse. Bancroft uses his years of counseling abusive men to help women understand the ways abusers think, see ways in which they are controlled or devalued, and escape abusive relationships. This book covers topics such as the nature of abusive thinking, the abusive man in relationships, and changing the abusive man.
This small book fits easily in a purse or pocket for women to carry with them on their journey of healing from abuse. It is full of wisdom, prayers, and encouragement. As the introduction says, “It is written so that we in the Christian community can keep the faith with you during this time of your life. We will not turn away from you; we will not abandon you. We will walk with you as you seek to end the abuse in your life.”
Christian women of color reflect on injustice, heartache, and suffering in this powerful collection inspired by Psalm 37. The essays, prayers, and poems are full of the emotion typical of the Psalms, acknowledging the darkness of this world while lifting up God’s faithfulness. “This book is for anyone who is broken, longing for justice, and trusting that ‘Jesus is a rock in a weary land,’” writes Latasha Morrison, founder of Be the Bridge and author of Be the Bridge, in the book’s foreword. “These insights invite you to feast, fellowship, listen, and learn at the table of the marginalized.”
This book combines van Wijk’s personal stories of her life as an academic and a woman with a scholarly look at how a feminist perspective and Reformed theology can go hand-in-hand.
“This book, written by women and filled with essays on a variety of theological topics—sovereignty, sin, election, etc.—was a great help and encouragement to me as I summarized what I know to be true about who God is and how God desires for us to be in the world,” says Katlyn DeVries, an ordained minister and writing assistant at Western Theological Seminary. This compilation, written by 13 feminist and womanist authors, is ideal for students and scholars interested in feminist theology.
Media that shares the stories of survivors of domestic abuse
Rev. Deb Rensink is known around Northwest Iowa as the “Shop Church Pastor.” She is the founder and president of Whispers of Love, Hope, and Joy, a faith-based non-profit serving women who have been impacted by domestic violence and their children as they move forward and create new meaning. She joins Rev. Liz Testa on Lavish Hope to share her story and offer plenty of practical tips and spiritual insights.
*Rated for mature audiences
Inspired by the best-selling memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land, this drama series keeps you coming back for more, not because it evokes warm and happy feelings, but because you’re drawn into the story of this young mom who is striving to “make it” after she flees her abusive relationship. Viewers are invited to engage with their own suppositions, frustrations, and judgments around domestic abuse.