Safe Sanctuaries® We want your children to be safe at Lake Harriet UMC. We train volunteers, participate in strategic planning, and screen all volunteers & employees who care for our kids, youth and vulnerable adults utilizing the UMC Safe Sanctuaries® policies.

Reducing the Risk of Sexual Abuse: Safe Sanctuaries® is one of the “social structures that are consistent with the gospel” (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.

Training is required for all persons having direct contact with children, youth, and vulnerable adults in all activities connected with local congregations, annual conferences, and camp settings. The minimum standard of training shall include an annual orientation that includes information about the Safe Sanctuaries Policy; training in the supervision of children, youth, and vulnerable adults; and training in the identification and reporting of abuse.

Those who wish to serve in ministries with children, youth, and vulnerable adults must be actively engaged in the life of the congregation for at least six (6) months prior to service, including worship, Sunday School, mission opportunities, and other ministries so that the people serving with children, youth, and vulnerable adults are known in the congregation. Groups of children and youth will be supervised by two non-related, noncohabitating adults, and each supervising adult will be five years older or more than the oldest child or youth in the group.

Safe Sanctuaries® training stresses the importance of face-to-face training and conversation when online training is used. The opportunity to talk through case studies or issues specific to a particular context is imperative so that each person working with the most vulnerable has an understanding of what is expected.

 

The History of Safe Sanctuaries®

In 1990, Frank O’Neal, a teacher in Tennessee, set up a fund in honor of his mother (Mattie) and his wife (Eleanor) to challenge and assist local congregations in ministering to families and children, targeted toward prevention, intervention, and elimination of child abuse. He believed that if information on abuse was made available to pastors that they would act. The first brochure listed resources that were available through The UM National Youth Ministry Organization, The General Board of Global Ministries, The General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Communications, and The United Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries. There was so much demand for the brochures that they had to put all of the secretaries on processing duties to keep up with it.
 
The 1996 General Conference of The United Methodist Church adopted (and subsequently readopted) a resolution aimed at reducing the risk of child sexual abuse in the church. The foundation for this is within the Social Principles on the Rights of Children (Book of Discipline, ¶162.C). There were also two related resolutions, “Putting Children and their Families First,” and “Sexual Ethics within Ministerial Relationships,” which is now “Sexual Misconduct Within Ministerial Relationships.”
 
Today, each Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church has a written and accessible policy. These policies stress the importance of the Biblical mandate from Matthew 19:14, “Allow the children to come to me, don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.” (Common English Bible)