Office of Connectional Ministries announces updated Safe Sanctuaries Policy

6/18/2021

The North Alabama Annual Conference adopted an updated Conference Safe Sanctuaries policy during the 2021 Annual Conference session on June 5. The updated policy makes a number of changes to clarify response and reporting procedures, to bring the language of the policy in line with best legal practices and to provide clarity around issues such as when and how churches should provide update training to staff and volunteers.

“We are excited about these updates and believe that they will help equip our churches to create the safest, most welcoming environments for the children, youth and vulnerable adults we welcome into our congregations,” says Associate Director of Connectional Ministries and Conference Safe Sanctuaries Coordinator Rev. John Fleischauer.

Updated Conference Policy

The updated text of the policy can be found in the pre-conference book/Journal Voi. I and on the Conference website. An online, self-paced course that provides additional details about the updated policy and is intended for leaders in local churches and ministries who are responsible for developing and updating their ministry’s policy is also available at this link. This training is not an updated training for local church staff and volunteers or a train-the-trainer course, but rather is intended to provide local church leadership with guidance to update their local policy.

Model Local Church Policy

In addition to the updated Conference policy, the Office of Connectional Ministries has developed a model policy that may be appropriate to many churches and can be adopted with no or few modifications. In general, churches for whom this model policy is appropriate meet the following criteria:

  • Have children/youth programming that is generally limited to weekly events at the church facility (i.e. Sunday School, UMYF, etc.)
  • Do not regularly transport children/youth or have overnight events
  • Do not have a school-like setting (daycare, preschool, mothers’ day out, etc.)
  • Do not have substantial ministries specifically for vulnerable adults

“We have realized in recent years that one of the most helpful resources we can provide is a basic policy that churches can adopt with no or few modifications rather than having to ‘reinvent the wheel’,” says Rev. Fleischauer. “Especially for churches who do not regularly have children or youth, the model policy may be a valuable tool in getting started with Safe Sanctuaries or updating an old policy.”

For more details about the model policy, including the obligations of local churches who adopt it, click here.

Additional Updated Resources

In the coming weeks, additional updated resources will be made available including an updated train-the-trainer program, updated virtual training for local church staff and volunteers based on the model policy and more. Details on these resources will be made available on the Conference website as they are available.

If you have questions about Safe Sanctuaries, or if you have a particular resource you believe would be helpful, contact Rev. John Fleischauer at john.fleischauer@umcna.org or (205) 226-7963.


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