Safe Sanctuaries

At Safe Harbor, it is very important that all who enter are safe. 

MISSISSIPPI CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH


Safe Sanctuaries Policy and Minimum Requirements

for Conference Ministries


Guidelines for Local Church Ministries

The
2006 Annual Conference approved a resolution that the conference “shall
develop safety and risk-reducing policies and procedures for the purpose of
providing protection to children, youth, and vulnerable adults that come to us,
to staff and volunteers from unwarranted allegations of abuse, and to limit the
extent of legal liability.” A task group developed the following policy,
which was presented and adopted at the 2007 Annual Conference.

INTRODUCTION
Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes
a child, welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5). He 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 fasted 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 those who cannot protect themselves. We
affirm this responsibility for the safety of children at each child’s baptism
by our congregational response, pledging:  “With God’s help we will
so order our lives after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by
steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened
in the way that leads to life eternal” (“Book of Worship,” Baptismal
Covenant, Congregational Pledge, 11).

PURPOSE
Building on our theological and spiritual foundation, our purpose for establishing
this policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate our absolute and
unwavering commitment to create a safe environment that will foster the
comprehensive health, growth, and development of all within our charge and
care.

INTENT
As a Christian community of faith, the Mississippi Conference of the United
Methodist Church, we pledge to conduct the ministry of the gospel in ways that
foster the safety and spiritual growth of all. Nothing in this policy or
procedure is designed to hinder or prevent the investigation of suspected,
reported, or confirmed violation of any Mississippi criminal laws.

We hereby declare our intent to:

Follow reasonable safety measures in the selection and
recruitment of staff and volunteers.

  1. Provide
    adequate training for staff and volunteers regarding the implementation of our
    policies and procedures.
  2. Implement
    prudent operational procedures in all programs and events that will encourage
    the development of our adults and children.
  3. Design
    a clearly defined procedure for reporting instances of injury, harm or
    abuse in accordance with the requirements of state and federal laws.
  4. Respond
    with compassion and integrity to needs as they present themselves
    following incidents of harm, injury, or abuse.
  5. Review
    our policies and procedures regularly to meet changing legal, health, and
    safety standards.

CONCLUSION
In all of our
ministries, the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church is
committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so that each person is
“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 Hymnal, p.44).