By Rev. Matt Ashley, South District Missional Strategist and Superintendent
Does your church have a Safe Sanctuaries policy to protect children, youth and vulnerable adults who participate in your ministries or visit your campus? Several decades ago, the United Methodist Church responded to child abuse by developing Safe Sanctuaries policies that help keep our children and youth safe from harm. We’ve also recognized the importance of protecting vulnerable adults in our care. Safe Sanctuaries policies help make congregations safe places where children, youth, and elders may experience the abiding love of God and fellowship within the community of faith.
For more information about Safe Sanctuaries, go to: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/equipping-leaders/safe-sanctuaries. If your church doesn’t have a Safe Sanctuaries policy that’s been approved by your Church Council and needs to develop one, a great step is to contact a neighboring United Methodist Church and ask for a copy of theirs; you can then adapt it to your context. If you need help developing a Safe Sanctuaries policy, feel free to contact me.
Having a Safe Sanctuaries policy won’t help you protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults if you don’t follow it, so your planning should include consideration of how to train leaders and volunteers in following its guidelines. It should also designate who is responsible for ensuring that your Safe Sanctuaries policy is being followed.
Many churches host outside groups on their campus, and some of those groups work with children and youth. What steps does your church leadership take to ensure that their practices honor the requirements of Safe Sanctuaries? This may be a topic of discussion for the Board of Trustees and pastor to consider.
Often the summer months are a bit slower on the church calendar. It’s a good time to review polices like Safe Sanctuaries and help ensure that the practices of your church embody the love and care of Jesus Christ for all people. If I can be of assistance to you, feel free to connect with me.
Thanks for listening –