The Church has a God-given responsibility to nurture and protect His people, especially those who are most vulnerable and in need of protection. This is nowhere truer than when congregations are caring for children and youth.
Jesus teaches explicitly that children are of much value in Kingdom terms, and that to cause one to sin has the gravest of consequences. Caring for our children and youth is a sacred trust.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:1-6 ESV)
Mark, in his Gospel account, adds the dimension of Jesus taking the children in his arms and blessing them (Mark 10:16).
Congregations are called to establish a secure environment where the perfect love of God works to cast out all fear (1 John 4:18) and the nurture and love of God are made known to all, and in particular to our children and youth. In this way, we can fulfill the biblical mandate to “train up our children in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6).
Because we are also called into a baptismal covenant that commits us to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself,” and to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being,” (BCP, 305) congregations are called to be safe places for all persons; where care givers, teachers, leaders, both paid and volunteer, ordained and lay, minister appropriately to the needs and concerns of the world.