Click here to read St. Paul's Safe Sanctuary Policy
The General Conference of The United Methodist Church, in April 1996 – adopted a resolution aimed at reducing the risk of 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 inspiration. They are full participants in the life of the church and in the
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 for us to offer both hospitality and protection to children. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church states that: “children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional and sexual exploitation and ABUSE.” (162C).
It is unfortunate that 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, class and ethnic lines. Virtually every congregation has among its membership 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 havens. God calls us to protect children, and all other vulnerable persons from sexual abuse, ritual abuse, and other forms of abuse! God calls us to create communities of faith where children and adults can grow safe and strong. (From The Book of Resolutions of The United
We adopt this policy for the prevention of abuse at the St. Paul's United Methodist Church in covenant with all United Methodist congregations.
Our congregation’s purpose for establishing this policy is to demonstrate our resolve and unwavering commitment to create within our ministries a “safe sanctuary” that will foster healthy growth and the development of the spirit; protect both our paid and volunteer staff from potential false allegations of abuse, and protect all the varied ministry assets of the church for making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Statement of Covenant
God calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to those who cannot protect themselves. As a Christian community of faith and as 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 children, youth, and vulnerable adults as well as all those who work with these individuals. We hereby commit ourselves as a community of faith to this policy of safety. We will follow reasonable safety measures in the selection and recruitment of workers; we will implement prudent operational procedures in all programs and events; we will educate all our workers who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults regarding the use of all appropriate policies and methods; 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 an incident occurs.
All of our ministries with children, youth, and vulnerable adults in this congregation of St. Paul's United Methodist Church are 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 11,” United Methodist Hymnal, p.44).