Safe Sanctuaries Training Creates Safe Environment for The Most Vulnerable

2/16/2022

By: Matthew Johnson Connectional Ministries and Communications Assistant

For more than 20 years, the Mississippi United Methodist Conference has required Safe Sanctuaries policies for all churches. Safe Sanctuaries, from The United Methodist Church, is an effort to create a safe environment within our community of faith and is required for everyone who participates in ministry with children/youth and vulnerable adults. The trainings instruct staff and volunteers to be observant and protect the most vulnerable in our congregations so that they may participate in fellowship freely and securely.

“All of us on staff take Safe Sanctuaries training,” said Rev. Kevin Clyde pastor at Crawford Street United Methodist Church in Vicksburg. “Anyone working in our preschool, doing children’s ministry or with vacation Bible school are required to take it.” 

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The policies cover in-depth issues that can arise during youth services, camps, overnight stays and when allegations of abuse are brought forth. Rev. Jill Shaw, pastor at Liberty United Methodist Church and Harris Chapel United Methodist Church in Benton, is a former social worker and has an extensive background in the issues that arise when the most vulnerable have been violated. Shaw is very impressed by the training.

“I think it’s one of the best trainings I’ve ever seen. I like that it focuses on older children taking advantage of younger children and paying attention to places in the building that cannot be easily seen. It is an effective tool to make people aware of potential things that can happen to vulnerable people,” said Shaw.

In addition to protecting the most vulnerable from sexual abuse, having a Safe Sanctuaries policy in place protects churches from legal liability if abuse cases arise. Review the Safe Sanctuaries policy at your church today, and make sure it is up to date. You can find videos on the purpose of Safe Sanctuary policies here. For Safe Sanctuaries resources click here, and for policies and guidelines for smaller congregations click here. MinistrySafe awareness videos are available for all churches in Mississippi free to them as well as their background checks which have a varying cost depending on the specific needs of the church. 

Photo credit shutterstock.com

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