Safe Sanctuaries is an overt expression in making congregations safe places where children, youth, and elders may experience the abiding love of God and fellowship within the community of faith.
Is there a set standard of care that local churches must follow?
Although Safe Sanctuaries is a guide published to help local congregations in planning, Safe Sanctuaries, Discipleship Resources, The United Methodist Church, and the Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church are not engaged in the practice of law and accounting. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a professional advisor should be sought. Safe Sanctuaries does not establish a standard of care for churches. Each local church makes its own decisions and determines what is best for it. Safe Sanctuaries and Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church provide information that may be helpful to churches.
· What does the term Safe Sanctuaries encompass?
Safe Sanctuaries, as referred to by Holston Conference, encompasses the efforts made by a local church, district, or the Conference to reduce the risk of abuse to children and youth and to protect the adult workers (either paid or volunteer) who interact with those children and youth in any church activity, whether on-site or away from the church building. The level of Safe Sanctuaries care must be tailored to and provided by each individual local church or district based on the specific needs of that church or district and the specific needs of a given activity. Being known as a Safe Sanctuaries church or district indicates to persons entering your building that a level of care and protection is being provided in that local church or at that district or Conference event.
· Why do we need to have this Safe Sanctuaries program?
For Holston Conference, the physical and emotional safety, as well as the spiritual growth of all God’s children and youth, is important. We as a Conference are committed to the holistic well-being of each child, youth, and adult entrusted to us. We believe that we as a Church must take reasonable steps to love and protect our children and youth while they are involved in programs and activities provided in and by our local churches, districts, and our Conference. In addition, we must take reasonable steps to love and protect those adults who work with our children and youth. The resolution Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse in the Church was adopted in 1996 and reaffirmed in 2000 by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. This resolution became the impetus for all Annual Conferences and local churches to implement child and youth abuse prevention policies. In all of our ministries with children and youth, the Holston Conference is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so that each child will be “… surrounded by steadfast love, established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal” (Baptismal Covenant II, United Methodist Hymnal, p. 44). This effort at Safe Sanctuaries demonstrates our commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all our children and youth.
For further Safe Sanctuaries questions, please contact:
Susan Groseclose, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries for Discipleship
Laura McLean, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries for Youth and Young Adults