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RGC. Rio Grande Conference of the United Methodist Church. Safe Sanctuaries Volunteer Training “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”. Courtesy of
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Rio Grande Conference
of the United Methodist Church
Safe Sanctuaries Volunteer Training“The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
The North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church
Safe Sanctuaries Task Force
With God’s help we will soorder our lives after the example of Christ, that our children and youth, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established
in the faith,
and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.
Volunteers should be at least 5 years older than the youth they are working with. For example, a 19 year old volunteer should not work with youth or children over the age of 18.
In most situations, a legal adult is defined as someone 18 years or older.
All doors should have windows in them, or a window into the classroom or office, to allow for visibility. When possible, half doors allow for greater visibility and reduce the risk of injury with doors opening and closing.
Where windows are unavailable, leave doors ajar and sit in an area where you can be seen from the open door, if you are the only adult in a counseling situation.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Make sure that parents and guardians are fully aware of event and trip plans, both on and off site. This builds trust and also minimizes room for questions and speculations.
Where to get started in your local church
Safe Sanctuaries by Joy Thornburg Melton
North Texas Conference Journal, pages 208-210
Evaluating your current church policies
Are you aware of conference and church policies regarding clergy sexual misconduct? (see 2008 Journal, pages 272-280)
Do you have liability insurance that covers sexual abuse?
Do you have a screening policy for volunteers and employees who working with youth and/or children?
Do you have safety procedures in place?
Safe Sanctuaries policies will vary greatly between congregation. Do not be too concerned about whether your neighbor’s church is doing a better or worse job than your church.
The most important thing in developing a Safe Sanctuaries policy is that you do your best to protect all vulnerable persons and volunteers or employees from abuse and from false allegations.
There is no 100% guarantee… So just do your best to take it one step at a time. Trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know what steps your church is ready for next.
Now that you have evaluated where your church currently is in the Safe Sanctuaries process, it is time to plan your next steps.
Be familiar with annual conference and other church policies regarding clergy sexual misconduct,
Carry liability insurance that includes sexual abuse coverage,
Adopt a screening procedure (use of application forms, interviews, reference checks, background clearance, and the like) for workers (paid and unpaid) directly or indirectly involved in the care of children and youth, and,
Develop and implement safety procedures for church activities; for example, where feasible:
Having two or more nonrelated adults present in a classroom or activity,
Leaving doors open and installing half-doors or windows in doors or halls,
Providing hall monitors,
Installing sign-in and sign-out procedures for children ages ten and younger,
Writing your local church policyYear three, by November 2010: “Third, attend upon the ordinances of God…”
5. Develop and implement an ongoing education plan for the congregation and its leaders on the reality of child abuse, risk factors leading to child abuse, and strategies for prevention,