The North Alabama Conference will hold a virtual Conference-wide Safe Sanctuaries training on Sunday, March 21, 2021, from 2 to 3 p.m.
Safe Sanctuaries is the North Alabama Conference's program for developing policies for and conducting training in the protection of children, youth and vulnerable adults in our congregations. All churches are required to have a Safe Sanctuaries policy in place. Part of the March 21 training will address how Safe Sanctuaries relates to churches that do not have children and youth who regularly attend as well as when a more comprehensive policy should be developed.
"Since 1996, United Methodists have been expected to develop and implement policies for the protection of the most vulnerable among us," says Associate Director of Connectional Ministries and Conference Safe Sanctuaries Coordinator Rev. John Fleischauer. He adds, "Our obligation as Christians begins well before 1996, though, as we see Jesus modeling this spirit of hospitality and protection of the most vulnerable throughout his ministry."
While helpful to all churches, this training is specifically intended for churches whose children's/youth programming, if any, is limited to Sunday School and similar programs held on church property. For larger churches or those with more complex programs and policies, this training will be a helpful introduction to Safe Sanctuaries. It is recommended that those churches consult with a district trainer to identify additional training needs. Even though many churches are still limiting in-person gatherings, they are still encouraged to complete this training to be ready to gather again in-person.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett says, “Throughout his ministry on this earth, Jesus showed great compassion for children and other vulnerable people he encountered. In our 21st century context, one of the ways churches demonstrate Christlike love and care for children, youth and vulnerable adults is through adopting Safe Sanctuary policies, including training.”
Churches who would like to participate can register at this link. Those who are registered will receive a link to access the online training as soon as it is available, and at least 48 hours before the training. It is recommended that, at minimum, the church's pastor, Trustees chair, and Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations chair participate, as well as any other staff or volunteers who work with children, youth, or vulnerable adults. Following the training on March 21, it will be made available as an online course.
Though not required, prior to participating churches are strongly encouraged to already have adopted a Safe Sanctuaries policy. Churches that do not already have a policy in place can visit the Getting Started with Safe Sanctuaries page on the Conference website for more details on developing and implementing a policy.
For more information about this training or about Safe Sanctuaries, please contact Rev. John Fleischauer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (205) 226-7963.