Alexandria United Methodist Church
Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Safe Sanctuary Policy

United Methodist Church of Alexandria, Minnesota

Updated 4/19/2020

Introduction:

 

The General Conference of The United Methodist Church, in April 1996, first adopted a resolution aimed at reducing the risk of child sexual abuse in the church. The adopted resolution included the following statements:

 

Matthew 18

1

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

6

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

7

Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

 

Children are our present and our future, our hope, our teachers, our inspiration. They are full participants in the life of the church and in the realm of God.

 

Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to the little ones, the children. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that “children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional and sexual exploitation and abuse.” (¶ 162C)

 

Tragically, churches have not always been safe places for children. Child sexual abuse, exploitation, and ritual abuse [.ritual abuse. refers to abusive acts committed as part of ceremonies or rites; ritual abusers are often related to cults, or pretend to be] occur in churches, large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural, and racial lines. It is real, and it appears to be increasing.

 

Most annual conferences can cite specific incidents of child sexual abuse and exploitation within churches. Virtually every congregation has among its members adult survivors of early sexual trauma. Such incidents are devastating to all who are involved: the child, the family, the local church and it leaders. Increasingly, churches are torn apart by the legal, emotional, and monetary consequences of litigation following allegations of abuse.

 

God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from sexual and ritual abuse. God calls us to create communities of faith where children and adults grow safe and strong. [From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church-2000, pp. 180-181. Copyright © 2000 by The United Methodist Publishing House, used by permission.]

 

Thus, in covenant with all United Methodist congregations, we adopt this policy for the prevention of child and youth abuse in our church.

 

 

Purpose:

 

Our congregation’s purpose for establishing this Safe Sanctuary Policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate our absolute and unwavering commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all our parishioners.

 

 

 

Statement of Covenant:

 

Therefore, as a Christian community of faith and a United Methodist congregation, we pledge to conduct the ministry of the gospel in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of all our parishioners; especially all children, youth and workers with children and youth.

 

We will follow reasonable safety measures in the selection and recruitment of paid and volunteer workers; we will implement prudent operational procedures in all programs and events; we will educate all of our workers with children and youth regarding the use of all appropriate policies and methods (including first aid and methods of discipline); we will ensure all paid staff having contact with and working with the congregation, children, and/or the public will be trained in personal boundaries and appropriate interactive behavior. We will have a clearly defined procedure for reporting a suspected incident of abuse that conforms to the requirements of state law; and we will be prepared to respond to media inquiries if any incident occurs.

 

All church leadership, including, but not limited to those working directly with youth, elderly, and vulnerable adults, will take Safe Gathering Training which requires certifies them through the Minnesota Conference.

 

About the Minnesota Conference “Safe Gathering” certification:

The Minnesota Annual Conference contracts with Safe Gatherings to provide access to an online program that enables churches to meet their screening and training responsibilities for those who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults.

Safe Gatherings is an abuse prevention and boundary awareness program developed to certify applicants to work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults. Individuals who complete an application, background check, and training may be authorized to work with those groups in any church-related setting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

 

In all of our ministries with our parishioners and especially with children and youth, this congregation is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so each parishioner, child and/or youth will be surrounded by steadfast love, established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal. (Baptismal Covenant II, United Methodist Hymnal, p. 44)

 

 

 

Matthew 5

45

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.