Hiawatha First UMC
Monday, December 18, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Policy for Protecting Children

Safe Gatherings:
Our Priority, Our Practice, Our Policy
Our Priority
The members of First United Methodist Church believe the church is intended to be a place where people come to meet God, experience unconditional love, and grow in faith. We believe God’s presence is what makes the space sacred; and because it is sacred space, it is incumbent upon the church to allow the space to become a sanctuary that is safe from the evils of our world. To that end, we do what we can to prevent those who might prey on children, youth or vulnerable adults from having the opportunity to do so. We therefore place a high priority on screening and training our leaders and ensuring appropriate action is taken when the sacred trust of God’s unconditional love is violated.
Our Practice
We know that the best way to prevent abuse from taking place is to be transparent in the way we accomplish our ministry. One way we create transparency is by making interactions between any adult and any potentially vulnerable person visible to others. Visibility is made possible by ensuring meeting rooms have open doors or windows through which anyone can look in on what is taking place and by having two adults present whenever there are potentially vulnerable people present.
We insist on those practices so that our spaces will remain sacred and safe for the benefit of all children, youth, and developmentally disabled adults – no matter who is using our facility, no matter when they are using the facility, and no matter how long they will be present.
When it is not possible to have two adults in the same room, ministries of our church will always be conducted by persons trained and screened by the Annual Conference, with at least one other non-related adult being aware of the event. (Ministries of our church include any activity or function promoted by, sponsored by, or planned by the church, including our latchkey program which is administered by a board with majority membership held by church members.)
Violations and suspected violations of our practice, as well as violations or suspected violations of sacred boundaries between adults and vulnerable people are to be reported as described in our policy as soon as possible. Anyone who suspects or witnesses the violations is responsible for making the report.
Our Policy

The Great Plains Annual Conference provides training opportunities and guidelines for the protection of churches and ministries as well as the beneficiaries of those ministries. We recommend the review of those policies by trained and screened adults in our congregation at least once each year as well as maintaining current certification. A list of trained and screened workers will be maintained in the church office.
Violations are to be reported to the Parish Nurse or the chair of the Staff/Parish Relations Committee (SPRC), if appropriate, to law enforcement officers as soon as practical to do so. It shall be the responsibility of the Parish Nurse or chair of the SPRC, depending upon who received the report, to notify the District Superintendent of the allegations in accordance with the Great Plains Annual Conference policy.
A Bibliography
Great Plains Annual Conference.  Safe Gatherings Policy for the Protection of Children, Youth and Adults from Vulnerable populations, undated.  
Melton, Joy Thornburg. Safe Sanctuaries (Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse in the Church). Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1998.
United Methodist Book of Discipline (2012).
Resolution #2044, "Sex Misconduct Within Ministerial Relationships,"  United Methodist Book of Resolutions (2012).