The Church of the Good Shepherd UMC
Sunday, June 23, 2024

Safe Sanctuary

Safe Sanctuary Policy
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
Lancaster, South Carolina
The General Conference of The United Methodist Church, in April 1996, adopted a resolution aimed at eliminating any potential for child sexual abuse in the church. The adopted resolution includes the following statement:
Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes a child welcomes me." (Matthew 18:5). 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.
Jesus also said, "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones..., it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6) 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 and sexual exploitation and abuse." (para. 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, both large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural and racial lines. Itis real, and it appears to be increasing. Most annual conferences can cite specific incidents of child sexual abuse and exploitation in their 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 its 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. P. 384-386)
Thus, in covenant with all United Methodist congregations, The Good Shepherd United Methodist Church adopts this policy for the prevention of child abuse in our church.
Our purpose for establishing this Child Abuse Prevention Policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate our total and unwavering commitment to the physical, emotional and spiritual safety of all our children, youth, and vulnerable adults.
Covenant Statement
The Good Shepherd United Methodist Church hereby pledges to conduct the ministry of Jesus Christ in ways that assure the physical and emotional safety and spiritual growth of all of our children and youth as well as all of our workers with children and youth. We will follow reasonable safety measures when selecting and recruiting workers; we will implement prudent operational procedures in all areas of programming and care; we will train our workers with children and youth on our procedures and policies; and we will have a clearly defined procedure for reporting a suspected incident of abuse that conforms to the requirements of South Carolina law.
Staff Selection Policies
All volunteer and paid staff who work with children and youth at Good Shepherd UMC will be:
·         21 years old.
·         At least 5 years older than the oldest child/youth they will be supervising.
·         A member of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church for at least 6 months.
All volunteer and paid staff who work with children and youth at GSUMC will:
·         Complete and sign an application and the related waivers giving permission to check references and background information.
·         Provide the names and contact information of 3 personal references.
·         Undergo a criminal background check if they will have supervisory program responsibility for children/youth. Individuals who have been convicted of physical or sexual abuse or neglect may not work in any church-sponsored activity or program for preschoolers, children, youth or vulnerable adults.
For this policy, the following definitions will apply:
Infant to Preschool- (birth to 5/6 yrs. Old)
Child- (7-11 yrs. Old)
Youth- (12-17 yrs. old plus those 18 who are still in High school)
Vulnerable Adults- (those with mental, emotional, and/or physical     
conditions who require special considerations.)
Staff Supervision Guidelines
Whenever supervising activities involving children and youth at Good Shepherd UMC,
·         Two non-related adults will be present at all times. 
·         Children will be checked into and out of a church sponsored activity by their parent or legal guardian or people authorized by parent/legal guardian.
·         They will have access to a telephone, cell phone or pager when groups are at or away from the church facility
·         Infants & Preschool children will be dropped off and picked up in the Nursery by parent or legal guardian or people authorized by parent/legal guardian.
·         Any child under the age of 11 shall be escorted from the sanctuary to the rest room by a parent or legal guardian or authorized person of the parent or legal guardian.
·         One-on-one interactions with children and youth will be with an open door and visibility to all.
Whenever Good Shepherd UMC sponsors an activity involving children or youth,
·         Anyone has the right to visit and observe the children’s/youth activity, classroom, or church-sponsored program at any time, unannounced.
·         All classroom and office doors will have a window or visibility from hallway or remain open while occupied. 
·         Windows will be kept free from adornment
Whenever Good Shepherd UMC transports children or youth away from the church campus,
·         No youth should drive to/from events unless riders provide signed parental release forms giving permission to ride with youth driver.
·         Supervising adults should never transport just one child/youth who is not their own child.
·         Must have written consent forms and Medical release form.
·         Any overnight outings, female staff will supervise female youth in their sleeping quarters and male staff will supervise male youth. Married couples will not stay together but observe the female/female and male/male sleeping arrangements. With the exception of a parent/child combination, a staff and youth will not occupy the same bed or sleeping bag.
Whenever Good Shepherd UMC hosts an activity involving children or youth from another church or community organization,
·         The groups using the church facility will follow Good Shepherd UMC’s Safe Sanctuaries policies and procedures or provide a copy of their churches/groups safe Sanctuary Policy.
Good Shepherd UMC volunteer and paid staff will attend training about Safe Sanctuary policies, procedures and child abuse issues on a yearly basis.
If a suspected incident of child abuse or neglect occurs at or is revealed to a volunteer/paid staff person at a Good Shepherd UMC sponsored activity, the adult in charge of the activity will
·         Insure the safety of the child or youth
·         Call the church pastor or designee
In all of our ministries with children, youth, and vulnerable adults, this congregation is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so that each child, youth and vulnerable adult 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 Book of Worship, p.96).