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In an effort to enable local churches to better understand and live out their Safe Sanctuaries policies, a series of training sessions is planned across the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church in coming weeks.

Each district will host “Safe Sanctuaries Best Practices,” an opportunity for local churches to have their policies evaluated to ensure they align with our commitment to make United Methodist congregations safe places to live out God’s call. Recommended attendees for district trainings are pastors (who will receive Clergy Services credit), trustees, Staff-Parish Relations Committee members, children and youth coordinators, church council chairpersons and lay leaders.

Training sessions are scheduled beginning in April in nine districts and will soon be scheduled in more. Each district will share a flyer with details and a registration link. For the latest district training schedule, go to

Once district training is completed, specially trained Safe Sanctuaries experts will be available to come to your church to help you train all persons who work with children, youth and vulnerable adults – as well as church council, staff-parish, trustees and other members.

“The more people trained, the better we can live out that commitment consistently,” said the Rev. Cathy Joens, a congregational specialist and Safe Sanctuaries coordinator for the conference. “Our goal is to have all of our churches’ policies evaluated and their staff and volunteers trained by April 2024.

“We pray that each church will find this helpful and supportive to their ministry. Together, we can all learn the most effective ways to ensure that our sanctuaries, classrooms, mission encounters, camps and retreats – all spaces where we gather to worship and serve God – are places of trust.”

Since 2007, churches in the South Carolina Conference have sought to provide and implement Safe Sanctuaries practices. We have continued to grow in our dedication to making United Methodist congregations safe places to live out God’s call.

As part of the Boy Scouts of America’s court-approved bankruptcy plan, The United Methodist Church has committed to a review of Safe Sanctuaries policies in all United Methodist congregations and annual conferences. The South Carolina Conference already has assessed and revised the conference Safe Sanctuaries policy to ensure that we are doing everything possible to protect children, youth and vulnerable adults entrusted to the care of our ministries.

“As our next step, we have been diligently recruiting Safe Sanctuaries leaders to serve as point persons for each district,” Rev. Joens said. “We have trained many persons to go into the churches and train specifically to each church’s policy.

“We are so grateful for the overwhelming commitment of each of our district leaders and local church trainers. It has been such a gift of teamwork – all about intentional ministry and looking out for one another. In other words: Loving and caring for one another.”

Our dedicated District Safe Sanctuaries Leaders are:

Anderson District
Rev. Deana Gentry

Charleston District
Rolland Fitch

Columbia District
Laurie Brandes

Florence District
Rev. Katherine Crimm

Greenville District
Weston Pendergrass

Greenwood District
Martha Alewine

Hartsville District
Connie Graham

Marion District
Cora H. David

Orangeburg District
Rev. Lisa Hawkins

Rock Hill District
Juliette Philpot

Spartanburg District
Rev. Maggie Cantey

Walterboro District
Rev. Lisa Way

Safe Sanctuaries
Training Schedule

August 20
Anderson District

2-5 p.m.
First UMC-Easley

To be scheduled

Hartsville District
Marion District

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