Empowering Voices of Child Advocates
September 8, 2016
“Don’t wait to use your voice!” read my notes from the 2016 Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. Often, those of us who are called to protect and support children and youth hesitate to speak up. We may hesitate because we are not experts in positions of power. We may hesitate because the daily onslaught of horrific news stories involving children overwhelms and drains us. We may hesitate because we forget that we, and our faith communities, are called by Christ’s example. Jesus healed and cared for children that society had forgotten. If you, like me, hesitate, at times, to use the full power of your voice, the Proctor Institute is a place to be inspired, renewed and informed.
Each day began with morning devotions by powerful faith leaders, this year the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. and the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III. Following devotions, participants engaged in Bible/theological study by Dr. Walter Brueggemann and Rev. Dr. Eileen Linder which focused on what Scripture has to say about the political, economic and social systems which allow too many of our children to fall through the cracks. Afternoon sessions offered a variety of workshop tracks on faith rooted, nonviolent organizing; intersecting justice movements; community building; and self-care. The day closed with vibrant worship and a different “Great Preacher” each evening.
The Proctor Institute is held each July in Clinton, Tennessee. Two months later I am still inspired by the words of the powerful speakers. The Bible studies have helped me to better articulate a theology of child advocacy as I work with United Voices for Children, Christians Engaged in Faith Formation, and the congregation I serve. Part revival, part workshop, part Bible study, and part worship, I highly recommend the Proctor Institute to anyone who is exploring a call to ministries of child advocacy.
In addition, persons in the Northern Illinois Conference who are called to ministries that benefit youth and children are invited to connect with United Voices for Children (UVC). UVC is a growing coalition of individuals and organizations working together on behalf of children.
Helpful Resources Related to the Children’s Defense Fund Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy:
- The Children’s Defense Fund: http://www.childrensdefense.org/\
- UMC 2016 Children’s Sabbath Information: https://ministrywithchildren.com/2016/08/22/the-childrens-sabbath-2016/
- Thus Far on the Way: Toward a Theology of Child Advocacy, by Eileen W. Linder, 2006.
Christine Hides is the Director of Ministries with Children and Youth at Northbrook UMC in Northbrook, IL. She is an active member of United Voices for Children and Christians Engaged in Faith Formation. She blogs at ChristineVHides.com.