The South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church has created a new online resource to help local churches and other ministries stay current on their Safe Sanctuaries policies and procedures.
The new webpage – umcsc.org/safe-sanctuaries – features updated materials such as sample policies, medical and media release forms and response guidelines, among other resources.
“Safe Sanctuaries is an important tool that helps local churches intentionally create safe spaces for our children, youth and vulnerable adults to experience God’s grace and call,” said the Rev. Cathy Joens, a congregational specialist who coordinates the conference’s Safe Sanctuaries efforts.
“It helps us to be thoughtful and intentional in our church family. It is, now, the way we do life together.”
Safe Sanctuaries is a “social structure that is consistent with the gospel” (2016 UMC Book of Discipline ¶122) allowing our sanctuaries, classrooms, mission encounters, camps and retreats – and all spaces where we gather to worship and serve God – to be places of trust.
Since 2007, churches in the South Carolina Conference have sought to provide and implement Safe Sanctuaries practices. Each local church must maintain a Safe Sanctuaries policy and review it annually. The conference is committed to resourcing and supporting churches that seek to be safe places where disciples of Jesus Christ are made for the transformation of the world.
“Information changes constantly, and we want to make sure you have the most up-to-date support to make your church a safe place for all who come and serve,” Rev. Joens said. “We encourage churches to review their policies every year and train staff and volunteers to that policy every year.
“Repetition is important. Train all of your leaders – Church Council, Staff/Parish Relations Committee, trustees and others. The more people who know what the policy says, the more people can help to create a safe space for God’s grace and call to be lived out.”
The new webpage includes links to:
- Help local churches conduct background checks through Trak-1, the conference’s vendor
- Screen volunteers to ensure that they are committed to creating a safe community of faith for all
- A “Resources & Documents” page from where local churches can download and customize their own policies and forms
- Conference contacts for any question a local church would have about Safe Sanctuaries, as well as whom to contact about Safe Sanctuaries training in each district
- Even more resources from UMC Discipleship Ministries