Q. What is Cherish All Children?
A. Cherish All Children is an ELCA ministry that equips congregations to prevent child sexual exploitation. The heart of this ministry lies in congregations, where staff, leaders, and members pray, educate, connect with others, and act on behalf of children within and outside their congregations.
Q. How do we establish a Cherish All Children ministry in our congregation?
A. We invite your congregation to pray, educate, connect, and act to prevent child sexual exploitation. There is no set process. You are free to participate in any or all components of the ministry. Your congregation is unique and you are best suited to determine the timing, process and outcomes that will work best for your congregation.
Q. What do you mean by "pray, educate, connect, and act"?
A. Preventing child sexual exploitation requires a multi-faceted effort to raise awareness as well as change attitudes and behaviors. Because of this, we invite your congregation to:
Pray: Congregations often begin the Cherish All Children ministry by praying for children. This is a very concrete, hands-on way to get started, and it engages a large portion of church membership. Some congregations offer intentional prayers, pairing one adult with one child; some congregations offer a public prayer during the "Prayers of the People" in worship. Cherish All Children offers a prayer booklet with a month’s worth of daily prayers and a few sample petitions for public prayers.
Educate: Congregations can educate youth, parents, and other congregation members about sexual exploitation, prevention, and social media safety. Pastors can preach sermons about preventing sexual exploitation. We can recommend speakers and materials.
Connect: Churches can be good neighbors in the community by connecting with other networks or organizations that work to prevent child sexual exploitation. It tells others that the church wants to be proactive in prevention, and it sends a message to the community that the church takes seriously its role as a protector of children. Connecting with others enhances the ministry of the congregations because outside organizations can offer educational and service opportunities, provide expertise for the development of safe church policies, and provide counselors or therapists as needed.
Act: When congregations pray, educate, and connect with others in the community, they are often led to act on behalf of children. Some congregations have engaged in grassroots advocacy for legislation to protect children. Others have established letter writing campaigns to stop advertisements or corporate practices that sexually exploit children. Some congregations develop/update their safe church policies. Others organize a service project to serve trafficked women and children.
Q. How do we get started?
A. Give us a call. We can help you explore ways in which your congregation can begin this ministry. Our Congregational Manual has tips, practical examples and a suggested structure for developing a Cherish All Children team. Our website has resources for safe church policies, prayer booklets, books, and Internet resources. Join our e-mail lists to receive the weekly Wednesday Prayer and the E-Quipped for Prevention newsletter which provides ideas and resources for congregations. Attend our National Gathering where congregations from around the country receive training and share best practices.
Q. What will it cost our congregation to establish a Cherish All Children ministry?
A. It will cost you only what you have determined to spend on any or all of these components. You can copy the manual and prayer booklets provided by Cherish All Children, and church volunteers carry out most aspects of the ministry, often under the guidance of church staff.
If you would like Cherish All Children staff to do a presentation, we ask for an honorarium to support our ministry. We also request that congregations involved in Cherish All Children provide some form of annual funding, either through a budget line item, a special offering, or some other means.
Our goal is to provide you with the tools and knowledge to carry out this ministry in your own congregation. We encourage you to share your stories of success and bumps in the road with other congregations engaged in Cherish All Children.We know from a church insurance company that complaints of child sexual exploitation have decreased, and we believe that is because congregations have become more diligent in their efforts to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.