“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)
The East Ohio Conference strives to provide “Safe Sanctuary” for all God’s children. We are seeking ways to improve and better implement “Safe Sanctuary” procedures to protect our children, youth and adults in order to make our congregations a safe place where everyone may experience the abiding love of God and fellowship within the community of faith. This includes children’s check in/out procedures, training and background checks for those working with children and youth, and procedures that guide the interaction of children, youth and adults. In response to guidelines set by the 1996 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, the East Ohio Conference bishop and cabinet appointed a task group to develop guidelines and a sample policy for reducing the risk of child abuse in the local church.
The task group’s goal was to create a sample which could be used as a framework by all churches in the conference to develop their own policy and procedures. The task group used the collective experience of the group and resources of the conference, other conferences, and several local churches to develop the sample while working with the conference attorneys and insurance companies, as well as children service agencies, and national experts on the subject of reducing the risk of child abuse in the church.
In 2015, the Conference Education Committee developed a task group and charged them with updating the sample guidelines. The following materials are the fruit of their work.
On these web pages you will find these sample guidelines, as well as resource materials, to help you develop a policy and guidelines for your local church. This sample was written to be used as a resource by a wide range of churches. Options are included to help you tailor the sample to your own situation. It is very important that you carefully consider the special circumstances of your local church and prayerfully consider the issues of safety and protection as you develop your own policy and procedures. Consultation with the leaders of your ministries with vulnerable persons is instrumental for success in reducing the risk. It is essential that you develop a policy and supporting guidelines that can and will be followed. After developing your policy, please have it reviewed by your own attorney and insurance agency.
“Currently, no congregation can afford, either financially, ethically, or morally, to fail to implement strategies for the reduction and prevention of child sexual abuse. We, as Christians, are not called to discontinue our congregation’s ministries with children and youth. We are called to engage in these ministries with great rejoicing and with the knowledge that we are making every effort to provide ministry to our children and youth in ways that assure their safety while they grow in faith.” (Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse in the Church, Joy Thornburg Melton, Discipleship Resources, Nashville, TN. p. 21)
In Christ’s Love,
The Child Protection Task Group, 1999
The Safe Sanctuaries Task Group, 2015
The East Ohio Conference would be glad to run basic, affordable safe sanctuary background checks for volunteers and staff in your church. To find out more information about how to access this resource, please contact Rev. Gary W. Jones by e-mail.
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH,
near Akron-Canton Airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW
North Canton, OH 44720
Local: (330) 499-3972
Toll Free: (800) 831-3972
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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