A protection policy lays out the church’s plan for proactive ways to prevent harm. Is your church’s plan up to date?
Children’s Initiatives Coordinator, Michigan Conference
As members of The United Methodist Church, we are called by God to ensure that our ministries and buildings are safe spaces for our children, youth, and vulnerable adults as well as the volunteers and staff in ministry with them. One of the important ways to protect our children, youth, and vulnerable adults from abuse and exploitation is through a church’s Safe Sanctuaries or protection policy (also known by other names). A protection policy lays out the church’s plan for proactive ways to prevent harm (abuse, neglect, exploitation, etc.), such as the two-person rule, door open or windows in door, hallway roamer, and bathroom procedures, to name a few.
The Michigan Conference has a Protection Policy Team that exists to maintain the conference protection policy and volunteer training. More information about the conference protection policy can be found here. The team also developed a protection policy template for local churches as well as training resources which are posted on the local church protection policy resource page. Your church should have your protection policy reviewed by your insurance company and attorney to make sure it is complete.
Not only is having an up-to-date policy important, following your policy and training and screening (background check and reference check) staff and volunteers are also critical. Every person who works with children, youth, and vulnerable adults should be screened and trained. This includes people who extend the Communion table or visit homebound persons and older adults. Screening and training can be done at your church by your staff or a volunteer, or churches can use Safe Gatherings, an online abuse prevention program. Safe Gatherings’ fee includes the application, training, background checks, and reference checks. For more information visit Safe Gatherings.
Children, youth, and the vulnerable are not the only people the church aims to protect. If you, lay or clergy, are concerned about sexual misconduct or harassing behaviors in your church, there are resources available for you at the updated Sexual Ethics resource page. You can find information about creating a Sexual Misconduct Policy for your church, ministry to/with persons on the registry list, dealing with harassing behavior at church, the complaint process, and more.
As we work together to protect everyone from harm, we hope that these resources are helpful for your leadership and church. If you have additional questions or need information, the following people are prepared to provide support and guidance:
- Judy Herriff, Protection Policy Team Chair, 517-604-1755, [email protected]
- Rev. Kathy Pittenger, Children’s Initiatives Coordinator for the Michigan Conference, 517-347-4030 ext. 4077, [email protected]
- Rev. Christy Miller White, Youth Ministry Initiatives Coordinator for the Michigan Conference, 517-347-4030 ext. 4095, [email protected]
Last Updated on November 2, 2023