Safe Sanctuaries Annual Checkup

July 06, 2022
It's a good practice to, at least once a year, take stock of your church's Safe Sanctuaries and related policies. Whether you're a pastor, age-level program staff, or a leader on the church's S/PPRC or Trustees, here are some questions you may want to ask to help make sure your policy is in good shape:

Who is on our Safe Sanctuaries team?
The churches with the most effective Safe Sanctuaries policies have a Safe Sanctuaries team in place which includes clergy, representatives from the church's Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee and Board of Trustees, age-level ministry leaders, and others. If you don't have a team in place, it's a great idea to put one together as part of this checkup process.

When was our policy last reviewed?
It is recommended that local church policies be checked annually to ensure that they are still appropriate to the church's context, and that a comprehensive review be completed at least every four years to incorporate best practices from the Conference policy. The Conference policy was last updated in 2021, so if your policy hasn't been reviewed since then, it's a great time to do so!

When did we last hold a Safe Sanctuaries training for volunteers and staff?
Safe Sanctuaries training should be offered at least annually, and volunteers and staff should be required to complete refresher training at least every 3 years. If it's been more than a year since you last offered training, or if you have volunteers and staff that need to complete refresher training, contact your district office to connect with a trainer!

Are volunteer and staff background checks up to date?
Background checks for volunteers and staff should be valid for no more than 3 years, and many churches choose to renew background checks for staff annually. If you have background checks that are out of date, this is a great chance to update any that are needed.

Who are our background check administrators?
Do you know who the administrators are for your church's background check program? Regardless of your background check vendor, you should have at least one person designated as an administrator who is responsible for submitting checks and reviewing results, and it is a best practice for at least one administrator to be someone other than clergy (either a lay staff member or a volunteer SPRC/Trustees leader). Especially if your church has had a change in appointment, make sure to review your administrators to ensure they are correctly listed.

If you have a branch account through GHRR (formerly ESS) and need to make changes, a current administrator on the branch can contact GHRR directly. If you're not sure who is listed as an administrator, or none of the administrators on the account are still affiliated with the church, one of the church's appointed clergy can contact Rev. John Fleischauer at john.fleischauer@umcna.org for assistance.

Are there items on this list that need some attention? If so, there are lots of resources available to you! Check out this link for more information about getting started with Safe Sanctuaries. Trainers are also available in every district, and you can contact your district office to connect with one today.
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