Safe Sanctuaries/AVA


AVA – Advocacy for Victims of Abuse – is a ministry started by Women Ministries in 2004 to advocate for women and children who are victims of domestic violence and childhood sexual assault. AVA provided resources, equipped the church to minister to victims through workshops, seminars, and training programs, and provided preventative measures against abuse.

In 2019 an updated AVA training was launched at Triennial in Minneapolis. The NWC held a training in September with around 20 participants, some of which were pastors. When WM was dissolved and became Fostering the Flourishing of Women, AVA was given to Love Mercy Do Justice to oversee.

Safe Sanctuaries:

In 2022, a government-funded task force completed a study and training materials to equip people working with victims of abuse. The need for a spiritual component was seen and because of the AVA work by the ECC, they were approached along with Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership against Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse to create training materials for church leaders and anti-abuse advocates. The new materials, called Safe Sanctuaries, are designed to educate and equip pastors, church leaders, lay leaders, and anti-abuse advocates in the ECC.

The training involves 11 online sessions which go over statistics, definitions, and basics of abuse. This is followed by an 8-hour in-person Safe Sanctuaries training, which uses role play situations, discussion, and videos to give practical ways to help those who have experienced abuse.

The Northwest Conference office and Women Ministries of the Northwest Conference are partnering together to make the Safe Sanctuaries training available to all pastors, church leaders, and anti-abuse advocates. If you church is interested in hosting a regional training, please contact Sheryl Schanil (email: or text/call 218-201-0899).

Another training opportunity will be available this summer at Gather: Tuesday, June 25th, 8:30am-5:00pm. The cost is $25. For more information, visit Gather – The Evangelical Covenant Church (