Safe Sanctuaries Example Policy - Small Church

Can my church just adopt this policy?

In some cases, your church may be able to simply adopt this policy. In general, churches eligible to adopt this policy:

  • Have 50 or fewer in attendance on a typical Sunday
  • Do not have a children's or youth program, or the program does not extend beyond Sunday School or similar programs (i.e. no day school, youth retreats, etc.)
  • Do not regularly have children's or youth activities that take place off-site (i.e. retreats or meetings in members' homes)

Note that this list is not all-inclusive, and it is the church's responsibility to ensure that any policy adopted is appropriate for their context.

If adopting this policy, it is the church's responsibility to ensure the following:

  • The policy has been reviewed and approved by the appropriate body within the church (typically the administrative board or similar structure)
  • A plan is in place to adhere to the policy as written and adopted
  • A plan is in place to review and update the policy as needs change
  • A revised policy is adopted as updates are provided by the Conference

Click here to download a PDF file of this example

Click here to download a Word document of this example


All local churches are responsible for developing and implementing their own Safe Sanctuaries policy and ensuring that policy is appropriate to their context. While this policy is provided as a model and contains suggested content, it is your church's responsibility to develop a policy that is appropriate for your setting.


Safe Sanctuaries Policy

_____ United Methodist Church


_____ United Methodist Church believes that scripture instructs us to care for the children brought into the church. These children may be regular attenders, or they may be the children of guests, grandchildren of our members, or others. Regardless of how these children come to us, we covenant to commit to their protection, and in doing so to represent God’s justice and mercy in the world.


As part of our commitment to care for and protect the minors, defined as anyone under the age of 18, as well as the vulnerable adults among us, we commit to the following:

  • All volunteers and paid staff working with minors and vulnerable adults shall complete a background check that includes a Social Security trace, State of Alabama criminal check, National (Multi-Jurisdictional) criminal check, and national sex offender registry check if not included as part of another check. These will be completed within 90 days for current volunteers, at the time new volunteers begin serving, and not less than every 3 years thereafter.

  • All volunteers and paid staff working with minors or vulnerable adults shall complete Safe Sanctuaries training led by a certified district trainer not less frequently than annually. We will offer this either as a church or in cooperation with other local churches. Additionally, volunteers and staff working with vulnerable adults shall complete additional training on the unique needs of the group(s) with which they are working.

  • Volunteers and paid staff must be at least eighteen (18) years old, and at least 5 years older than the oldest member of the group(s) with which they are working. Additionally, they must have been regular attenders in worship for at least six (6) months prior to serving. These requirements may be waived by the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee.

  • Volunteers and paid staff shall be responsible for no more than ten (10) minors or vulnerable adults at any given time, and at all times where a group of minors is present there must be two or more non-related and non-cohabitating adults. If two non-related adults are not available, the “least-related” adults should be used (for instance, cousins are preferable to siblings). At no time shall a husband and wife serving together be counted as two adults for purposes of this policy, however, they may be counted as a single adult.

  • Volunteers and staff driving minors and vulnerable adults to off-site events shall be qualified as leaders, and additionally shall complete a motor vehicle record check and provide proof of current insurance coverage. Chaperones shall be the same gender as the minors or vulnerable adults being supervised, and shall not share a bed with any minor including their own child. Where possible, hotels opening to an interior hallway should be utilized for overnight events. For any off-site event, the trip’s leader must obtain medical information and liability release forms for all participants, and provide parents/guardians with a schedule and contact information.

  • While Alabama law does not mandate reporting of observed or suspected abuse in a church setting except for clergy, _____ United Methodist Church encourages voluntary reporting. In the event that abuse is observed or suspected, the person who observed or suspected the abuse shall be responsible for making a report to the Department of Human Resources or law enforcement and the senior pastor. The senior pastor shall be responsible for making a report to the district superintendent or, in the event that an allegation of abuse is made against the senior pastor, the report to the district superintendent shall be made by the chairperson of the Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee. 

  • A Safe Sanctuaries Team comprised of representatives of the Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, Board of Trustees, and Finance Committee; as well as others whom they invite to participate in the Team’s work; shall be responsible for reviewing this policy on an annual basis for adherence to requirements established by the North Alabama Conference and recommending changes to the Administrative Board. 


Adopted this _____ day of ____________________, 20_____

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