What is Safe Church Policy?
In our Baptismal Covenant, we promise to respect the dignity of every human being. One way that we live out that value in ECMN is through the implementation of our Safe Church Policies.
Our Safe Church Policies establish and maintain standards intended to ensure that our faith communities are safe places where all of God’s people are loved and encouraged to grow into the people God calls us to be. These policies provide specific recommendations, best practices, and guidelines that seek to protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults.
Safe Church Policies
Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth (UPDATED 4/9/19)
Policies for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (UPDATED 4/9/19)
What are the updates?
The Safe Church Policies were updated in April of 2019 at the urging of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. General Convention provided a set of model policies for the Protection of Children, Youth, and Vulnerable Adults. These model policies have been integrated into the existing policies and are presented in their final form in the links above.
These updated policies and training materials now include best practices for: facility safety, current child protection research, the needs of vulnerable adults, support for LGBTQ and gender non-binary persons, awareness of diverse sensory needs, off-site and overnight programming, camp and retreat centers, social media and other communication practices.
Each faith community is asked to review and adopt their own versions of these Safe Church policies.
In December of 2019, the ECMN team of missioners took an initial deep dive to combine the previous ECMN Safeguarding Polices with the model Safe Church Policies put forth at General Convention in 2018. Additionally, missioners were informed by best practices from within ECMN and updated Safe Church policies from dioceses that had already incorporated the General Convention recommendations. All of these pieces were then incorporated into the updated policy documents. For instance, since social media use has become part of youth programs, this experience and practice within ECMN programming was taken into account when writing the related sections of ECMN's updated policy. The Children's and Youth Ministry Network (CYMN) in ECMN, as well as ECMN's Youth Commission, reviewed the proposed updates. These refined policies then went to the Bishop and ECMN Chancellors for full review before being reviewed and approved by ECMN's Council on April 9, 2019.
Updated Training Framework:
ECMN now has three (3) distinct tiers of training. Each tier can be completed in person with an ECMN-certified trainer or online. These training recommendations were put in place in order to better clarify who needs to be trained and how, based on their role, and how they can complete those trainings. You can find recommendations on training by role by viewing this matrix, which is also Appendix C in the Safe Church Training Policies.
If you’d like to host an in-person training, contact your Missioner for Children, Youth, Camp, and Young Adults, Sarah Barnett, at email@example.com.
You can find out about other trainings already taking place by clicking here to view the Safe Church Training google calendar. Trainings on this calendar happening through June of 2019 will utilize our prior polices and training model. The new training model will be shared with our community of trainers this summer.
Tier 1. Universal Training
Summary: Each faith community is required to offer this one-hour community-wide training annually. It can be delivered by a trainer or by anyone in the faith community through digital materials.
Policy: It provides a broad overview of all four policies with attention to how to create a safe, healthy, and transformational faith community.
Tier 2. Safe Church for God’s Children
Summary: Tier Two is a three-hour foundational training for anyone who has access to facilities and/or is in ministry with children, youth, or vulnerable adults.
Policy: It covers the first two of the four Safe Church Policies (Children and Youth & Vulnerable Adults).
Tier 3. Safe Church for God’s People
Summary: Tier Three is a three-hour training for staff and clergy, who are involved in managing ministries for youth and adults alike. It discusses the power dynamics present in pastoral relationships and how to prevent sexual harassment and exploitation.
Policy: It covers the second two of the four Safe Church Policies (Harassment & Exploitation).
ECMN provides support in completing background checks for staff and volunteers. To get more information on this process, contact your Missioner for Administration, Lizanne Geno, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the timeline for implementing these updated policies and the new training model?
Part 1): Policy update
- January: The updated policies were approved by ECMN's chancellors.
- March 9: The updated policies will be reviewed/approved by ECMN's Council at their quarterly meeting.
- March 15-31: The updated policies will be publicly announced to all of ECMN with an implementation plan.
Part 2): Training model update
- April: The updated training model (with additional content/videos/resources) is developed by a team of trainers, clergy, and lay volunteers.
- April 30: The updated training model is finalized and presented at Clergy Conference.
- May 21-22: First "test drive" of the new training model with the ECMN team of missioners.
- June: Trainer Camp (Thursday June 27 1 – 5pm (at ECMN) or Saturday June 15 9am – 1pm (Zoom Only)). The new training model is brought to ECMN's community of trainers. All trainers or new people desiring to be trainers must attend this if they want to be trainers for our new policies.
- July-December: Approximate 6 month window for faith communities to read new policies, adjust/adopt their own internal policies at a vestry meeting, and begin using the new training model.
What specific steps should faith communities take now?
Step 1: Formally adopt these Safe Church Policies at a Vestry, Bishop’s Committee, or Board of Directors meeting and recorded the text of the policies in the minutes. Review and reaffirm your adoption of these policies annually and record it in the meeting minutes.
Step 2: Ensure adequate documentation for previously safe church trained individuals (who have been trained in the last five years). Find a contemporaneous paper record or online database entry. If you can’t find such a record, that individual must redo their training either in person or online. The only instance in which past trainings may be entered online retroactively is when there is a signed paper copy documenting the past training by a trainer.
Step 3: Establish a practice for determining who needs renewal and has past the three-year training window. One way to do this is to go into the online safeguarding database, download a spreadsheet of the entire faith community organization, and sort by training date.
Step 4: Identify those in your faith community who need to now be safe church trained (Appendix C).
Step 5: Contact a certified ECMN safe church trainer to schedule or attend a live training starting in July 2019 (See Google Calendar of trainings and list of trainers by May 31). Refer anyone who can’t attend in person to the online options (Google Doc instructions).
Step 6: Steps 1-5 should be completed by December 2019.
Contact your Missioner for Children, Youth, Camp, and Young Adults, Sarah Barnett, for general Safe Church information.