safe Church Policy

Protecting Children, Youth, & Vulnerable Adults

A. Introduction

Scripture and our United Methodist tradition inform us in our belief that all of human life is of sacred worth, perhaps children most of all. Hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:5-6: “Whoever welcomes [a] child, welcomes me. 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.”

With The Book of Discipline, we affirm that our youth, our children and/or vulnerable adults are full human beings in their own right, but because they are particularly vulnerable, they are our sacred trust to whom we have special responsibility (162.III.C). The Church is particularly accountable to provide a safe environment for youth and children (161.II.H). “Children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional, and sexual exploitation and abuse” of any kind (162.III.C). We call on the Church and society to protect the civil rights of persons with all types and kinds of disabilities (162.III.I).

Therefore, as a covenanted Christian community of faith, it is the purpose of Oak Harbor First United Methodist Church (OHFUMC) to conduct all youth and children related events in ways that promote the safety and spiritual growth of all of our youth and children, as well as all of the workers with youth and children who also participate in these events.


B. Scope

This policy and its provisions shall apply to all paid and unpaid staff, whether lay or clergy, who have any contact with youth and children who participate in any Church activities or events. For the purposes of this document, children are infant through fourth grade, intermediate are grades fifth through sixth grades, junior high grades are seventh through eighth grades and senior high are grades ninth through twelfth. During the summer, the grade level of the child is defined as the grade that they will be entering in the fall. Vulnerable adults are also included in this policy. A vulnerable adult is someone who is over 18 years old and who is or may be for any reason unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.


C. Purpose

Our congregation’s purpose for establishing this Youth and Children’s Safe Church Policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate our absolute and unwavering commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all of our children, youth, and vulnerable adults.


D. A Higher Standard

As ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we must strive to be worthy of a very high standard of trust. For this reason, every worker at OHFUMC must avoid even the appearance of inappropriate behavior. All workers, both paid and volunteer, must diligently avoid any contact that appears wrong to a reasonable character, even if no misconduct takes place.


E. Statement of Covenant

Therefore, as a Christian community of faith and United Methodist congregation, we pledge to conduct the ministry of the gospel in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of all of our youth and children, as well as the workers with them. We will follow the 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 of our workers with children, youth, and vulnerable adults regarding the use of all appropriate policies and methods (including first aid and methods of discipline); 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 inquires if an incident occurs.


F. Procedure for Updating and Revising the Youth and Children Safe Church Policy

1. Updating/Revising: The Church Council of OHFUMC shall have the authority to revise and update these policies every 3 years or at the request of leadership or Policy Supervisor.

2. Waiver of Policies: Church policies may be waived occasionally for an exceptional circumstance. The goal of OHFUMC is to promote safety while maintaining practical flexibility in children and youth ministry. Waiving policies will only be authorized by the Policy Supervisor and/or in consultation with the program staff person in charge.

3. Modification of Policies: This policy may be modified or withdrawn by OHFUMC’s Church Council at any time. These policies are not intended to create an implied or express contract with any person.


They are not intended to create a legally enforceable or binding promise of representation.



I. YOUTH AND CHILDREN ACTIVITY GUIDELINES


A. General Safety Requirements

1. Parents shall be given advance notice and full information regarding any Church-related activities or meetings for their youth/children.

2. All local churches must be insured for abuse, risk, and facility hazards.

3. Any activity that has a risk factor to it requires the presence of an experienced and/or certified guide or instructor. (For example: swimming, river floating, rock climbing, a challenge course, or other rise-related activities.) Participation in these activities shall also be properly insured with a certificate of liability. If the activity is contracted to an outside, party, then the contractor shall also be properly insured with a certificate of liability insurance providing a minimum of one million dollars liability coverage limits. 

4. If any special equipment is used that required special instruction, the instructions for its use will be posted and followed. Participants will also be instructed verbally in the use of the equipment.

5. Medical permission forms are required from all youth, children, and vulnerable adults and volunteers participating in special Church outing events (i.e. overnight trips, CONVO, Mission trips and all day events away from the Church). These forms shall accompany the adult coordinator of the event or meeting and shall include a waiver of liability. In the case of an accident that requires medical attention, the person who is responsible for the event or the meeting will use all means possible to contact the parent, guardian, or emergency contact while ensuring that the youth/children receive the proper care.

6. There shall be a first aid kit on the premises at all the church events and accompanying a qualified adult on all overnight events. (A qualified adult is an adult over the age of 21 years and that is certified in first aid and CPR skills.) That first aid kit shall include disposable vinyl gloves, assorted gauze and bandages, antiseptic/alcohol wipes, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, cold compress, soft splints, triangle bandages, scissors, and a CPR barrier.

7. All overnight events shall have a person certified in first aid and CPR who can administer minor first aid, dispense medicine as needed, and who are capable of determining whether additional medical attention is necessary. This first aid person is also responsible for reporting all incidences to the Policy Supervisor, Pastor, SPPR Chair, DSO and/or Trustees.

8. For all overnight events that primarily target minors, all medicine, including supplements, will be given to the first aid staff at the beginning of the event, and it will then be distributed as appropriate by the first aid person. An ongoing log of all medications dispensed and treatments administered will also be kept.

9. All participants in an event will consistently remain in groups of three or more. All minors will have an adult leader present.

10. If anyone notices unrecognized people at an event, the event or meeting coordinator shall be informed as soon as possible.


B. Driving Regulations

1. Only those who are 23 or older may drive the Church vehicle on event business or during an event. If there are passengers involved, the driver shall be at least 25 years. A few exceptions to this age requirement maybe permitted and approved by the Administrative Council.

2. The driver shall possess a valid driver’s license and appropriate insurance, and the driver’s record shall conform to the recommendations that are suggested by the United Methodist Insurance Tip Sheet and the Church Insurance Agency Corporation. Use this checklist for renting or using personal autos for church sponsored activities:

  a. Drivers should be between the ages of 25 and 70.

  b. Background checks should be conducted on all drivers.

  c. Use two drivers on long trips, sharing the driving to avoid fatigue.

  d. Be sure there is a dedicated adult responsible for supervising children.

  e. Complete a vehicle inspection checklist before all church-sponsored trips.

  f. Check lights, blinkers, tires, fluid leaks, etc.

  g. Determine maximum speeds that all drivers are not to exceed.

  h. All drivers should stop at all railroad crossings, driving as though they expect a train on the tracks.

  i. Cancel all trips when driving hazards such as fog, heavy rains, or severe wind conditions exist.

  j. Avoid nighttime driving whenever possible, since things may appear different than they do in daylight conditions, causing difficulties.

  k. Strictly prohibit cell phone use while driving.

  l. All occupants should always wear safety belts.

  m. Always drive with headlights on. Automobiles with headlights on during daylight hours are visible from three times further away than cars that do not have their lights on.

  n. Use of 15-passenger vans is not recommended.

  o. The purchase of additional liability coverage from rental agencies is suggested.

  p. Leave an itinerary with someone at the church; include the route, expected time of travel, and contact numbers.


3. If an adult other than the child’s parent or guardian provides a ride from a church event or meeting for youth/children, the parent or guardian must provide written permission to the chaperone/leader that this other person is picking and driving their child home from this event. The chaperone/leader may give their child(ren) a ride home.

4. Youth are discouraged from driving themselves to out of town events. We encourage all of the youth to ride together with chaperones.

5. If a youth drives to an event or meeting out of town, the youth who is driving shall carry written permission to drive to the event from his/her parents.

6. There shall be no “in and out” privileges for youth and children. Exceptions to this rule shall be approved in advance by the event leader and his/her parents. “In and Out” privileges are times when a child/youth leaves an overnight/lock-in event early by him/her (without his/her parent’s permission) before the event is over.

7. Vehicles that are used for and during events shall meet all legal State requirements.


C. Overnight events

1. Boys and girls may not sleep in the same room unless there is no other option as a result of shortages of chaperones or because of the nature of the space. If they are in the same room and there is a divider available, it shall be used to separate the genders. If there is no divider or separation available, boys and girls shall be at least six feet apart from each other after lights out call.

2. There shall be at least one adult of the same gender in each sleeping quarters; two adults are required for each gender if less than three youth/children are present.

3. At overnight events/mission trips, a minimum of eight consecutive hours of sleep shall be scheduled per night. These hours begin with lights out and quiet time and end at least one half hour prior to breakfast. An exception to this rule is the “lock-in” events where youth stay up as late as possible and maybe all night!


D. Policy Supervisor/Designated Safety Officer (DSO)

1. OHFUMC shall have a designated Policy Supervisor/DSO, laity or clergy, paid or volunteer, whose job it is to see that the Ministry Safe background clearances are made for all volunteers. (Staff & Pastor Parish Relations committee is responsible for checking references and backgrounds for all paid staff.) This person will keep the background checks in a safe, locked space. They are also assigned the responsibility of developing, overseeing and reviewing the training (regarding the safety of children/youth/vulnerable adults) of all staff and volunteers. This training may include the following subject areas:

   Appropriate boundary guidelines

   Types of abuse, the relationship between imbalances of power and abuse

   Causes and indicators of abuse

   Reporting procedures

   What to do when you suspect or discover child abuse

   Understanding the victim and the abuser

   Working with abuse victims

   Conference youth/children event policies

   Media reporting policies

2. The Policy Supervisor shall be required to be a Conference Designated Safety Officer (DSO) and trained accordingly.

3. The Policy Supervisor/DSO is also responsible for serving as the resource person on these issues, for receiving reports of guideline misuse or reports of abuse and for seeing that all persons who need to know of abuses are informed.

4. The Policy Supervisor/DSO is responsible for carefully documenting all aspects of an abuse incident on the Abuse Incident Report Form. This report shall be forwarded immediately to the CPS Office, Pastor, District Superintendent and Conference Office, and to any other group who may need to know.

5. If a person reports that they have been abused in another setting, the Policy Supervisor/DSO shall consult with the event leaders or other oversight staff and they shall make a determination of who should be informed; this may include CPS, law enforcement, etc. In the case of a minor, if the parents are not the subject of the abuse, they need to be informed as well.


E. Policy for Screening Paid and Volunteer Staff

1. All adults shall pre-register for an event at least 72 hours prior to that event (mission trip events, VBS, and over-night events) except under extenuating circumstances. The registration shall include the standard screening questions for the Ministry Safe Check.

2. An adult who works in a role that places them in direct contact with youth/children shall complete a Ministry Safe Check. These documents need to be kept locked and secured with Ministry Safe or in our Church’s secured, locked files.

3. Those who are not resident of Washington or any other State, or who have resided in Washington less than three years shall provide three reference checks from a prior church, school, or employer who are not related to the applicant. Copies of these documents shall be filed with the Policy Supervisor/DSO.

4. Prior to the beginning of each new year, the Policy Supervisor/DSO shall ensure that checks are completed for every adult who is involved in the program or will be involved. As others join, they will need to fill out background checks.

5. A criminal conviction for a sexual offense disqualifies an applicant from working with youth or children. Other automatic disqualifiers usually are convictions for incest, rape, assaults involved minors, murder, kidnapping, child pornography, domestic violence to the other parent, and physical abuse.



II. CODE OF BEHAVIOR


A. Rules of General Supervision for Adults Working with Youth/Children/Vulnerable Adults

1. The behavior of adults working with youth, children and vulnerable adults must reflect the highest standards of Christian maturity, foster trust at all time, and be above reproach. Adults engaged in church related events or activities with youth and children present should never engage in sexually suggestive behavior or inappropriate touching.

2. Any sexual or sexually suggestive behavior by an adult toward any fellow worker or event participant at a Church event where an imbalance of power exists between the acting adult and the other person constitutes an abuse of power. This offending adult will be asked to leave the area and/or building.

Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual advance, physical or verbal demand, or sexually suggestive behavior which is perceived as demeaning, intimidating or coercive. Prohibited behavior includes unsolicited and unwelcome contact that has sexual or coercive overtones, including:

  a. Sexually suggestive or coercive communication of any kind, such as obscene letters, notes, or

invitations, comments, threats, slurs, epithets, jokes about gender-specific traits or sexual

orientation, sexual propositions.

  b. Any bullying or intimidation act, whether it is physical contact, such as intentional touching,

pinching, brushing against another’s body, impeding or blocking movement, assault, coercing

sexual intercourse; visual contact, such as leering or starting at another’s body, sexually suggestive

gesturing, displaying sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons, posters, or magazines; or

verbal threat, name-calling, or any unwanted gesture.


3. The following guidelines for touching are to be carefully followed by anyone working with youth and

children:

a. Touching should always be initiated by the youth or child. The adult should respond to the child’s

need for comfort and encouragement and not base touching on their own emotional needs.

Appropriate touching by an adult involves holding hands as part of a group such as touching only the

head or shoulders, and/or a side-on hug of the shoulders.

b. Touching between an adult and youth or child shall only occur in the presence of other adults.

c. A youth’s or child’s preference not to be touched should be respected by adults and others. This

includes youth to youth and child to child.

4. Anytime an adult thinks that his/her own or another adult’s behavior towards a youth or child, either

touching or verbal, may have been perceived as inappropriate, that adult shall report the behavior to the

leader in charge or the Policy Supervisor/DSO.

5. All adults shall avoid being alone, one-on-one, with a youth or child. Interaction with youth and children

shall be conducted within the sight/supervision of at least one other adult. In cases where it is impossible

to avoid direct, one-on-one interactions, the following guidelines shall be observed:

a. If an adult or leader is alone with youth/children, two or more youth/children shall be present with

the adult or leader.

b. If interactions are being conducted in a classroom and there is only one adult available, the

classroom door shall remain open and/or if possible there should be a roamer on premises.

c. When private consultation is needed between a youth/child and an adult, another adult shall be

informed of the activity and of the location in which the activity is taking place. The monitoring adult

shall strive to ensure that the consultation takes place in a public space within sight of others, but not

necessarily within hearing range.

6. Adults shall respect the privacy of youth and children when changing clothing or showering to the extent

safety allows. Adults will not be nude in front of children or youth.

7. Youth and children shall be supervised at all times by at least one adult who is at least four years older

than the oldest youth/child who is attending the event as a participant.

8. When only two adults are required for supervision, the second adult shall not be related – i.e. a spouse,

parent, sibling, or child – to the first adult, as far as practicable.

9. Ratios: The following ratios will be in place for age-level events:

 Younger children (preschool & under): 1 adult to 4 children

 Children (Kindergarten – Grade 4): 1 adult to 6 children

 Intermediate (Grade 5 – Grade 6): 1 adult to 6 youth

 Junior High (Grade 7 – Grade 8): 1 adult to 6 youth

 Senior High (Grade 9 – Grade 12): 1 adult to 8 youth

 Ratios for 7th, 8th, or 9th graders will be the ratio of the prevalent age group at the event.

10. At least 50% of adults at an event where Intermediate and Junior High youth are present shall be at

least 21 years old.

11. Those adults who participate in an event shall initiate no personal interaction with

youth/children/vulnerable adults via e-mail or otherwise, with the exception of simple informational

communication, without informing the guardian.

12. Anyone not registered for an event or activity is required to check in and out with the event director.

13. There will be absolutely no drinking of alcohol or use of illegal drugs or smoking (vaping included) of

cigarettes at or during any church-related activities or events that include minors. Any drinking of alcohol

or use of illicit or illegal drugs will lead to immediate suspension and removal from the event.

14. Possession of firearms or any other threatening objects (knives, machetes, etc.) is forbidden.

15. All adults working with youth and children shall abide by all laws and regulations applicable to the

location of the event.

16. Provisional Youth Worker: A provisional youth worker is a youth worker, either paid or volunteering,

whose role is defined by our Church as central to youth ministry but whose age does not conform to the

four-year rule in event guidelines. At the discretion of Church staff relating to the program area, this can

be allowed. The following conditions shall apply:

 The Church Pastor is required to give consent and explanation of the need.

 The provisional youth worker shall not be a part of the adult to youth ratios and shall not be

defined as an adult chaperone when it comes to guidelines such as sleeping.

 Their status and limited responsibility at the event should be clear to other adults and youth.

 They should have Safe Sanctuaries training and a recent background check.

 The Church staff reserves the right to add other conditions as they deem necessary.


B. Youth/Child Behavior

Prior to any overnight or longer activity or event, youth and children shall be required to sign and

abide by a covenant defining appropriate behavior.


C. Rules of general supervision for “interactive” Youth and Young Adult Events

There are occasions when it is important and desirable for youth and young adults to meet jointly and to have

opportunities for interaction. In these instances the Youth, Children and Vulnerable Adult Event Guidelines

remain the primary guidelines for the event and apply to all the ages participating in the event with the

following amendments:

1. Whenever youth and young adults are together as participants at events, there shall always be more

youth than young adults in situations of isolation from the larger group.

2. Young adults shall enter into the same covenant as youth participants. Any distinctions should be

clearly and publicly stated.

3. The 23-year old driver limit set in the youth event policy section does not apply if all passengers are

young adults.

4. In/out privileges for young adults are at the discretion of the event coordinator.

5. At overnight events, youth and young adults may not sleep in the same quarters.

6. Adults may not serve jointly as chaperones to the event and participants at the event.

7. The standard ratios that apply to youth also apply to at interactive events. These ratios apply only to

participating youth, not young adults. At least 25% of adults at a mixed event where both youth and

young adults are present shall be at least 25 years or older.

8. All young adult participants shall submit a background check prior to the event.

9. These events are specifically designated as “Interactive youth and young adult events.” When an

event is designated as anything other than an interactive youth and young adult event, young adults

are not permitted to participate.



III. RESPONSES TO CODE INFRACTIONS AT AN ACTIVITY OR EVENT


A. Responding to Behaviors that Hinder our Mission

In addition to the behaviors that are described above, there are other behaviors that may hinder our mission

and purpose of our Church or Church group. Examples of these incidents include a chaperone who continually

undermines program objectives or an event planner who neglects staff training or health and safety concerns,

etc. When serious concerns arise:

1. The event coordinator or leader shall encourage the person raising the concern to talk directly with the

person whose behavior is considered detrimental.

2. If the person raising concern is unwilling or unable to talk directly on his/her own with the person in

question, or if the initial conversation is unproductive, then the event coordinator or leader shall meet

with the two individuals to seek resolution.

3. If a mutually agreed-upon resolution is not possible, then the event coordinator/leader shall have the

authority to prescribe a resolution.

4. Anonymous complaints or evaluations shall be considered unverifiable and, therefore, will have no

foundation for being officially addressed.

5. Persons whose behavior hinders the mission and goals of the ministry of whose negative behavior is

repetitive may face review of their participation in leadership for that behavior by the person or group

to whom they are accountable.

6. If the person who is perceived to be hindering the mission is the event coordinator/leader, then the

person who is raising the concern may report to the Policy Supervisor, pastor, Staff/Pastor-Parish

Relations committee, or person assigned to oversee this leader.

7. The Church has the obligation to inform the Annual Conference of all persons whose behavior they

deem to be inappropriate for working with youth and children. The Conference shall maintain a list of

these people in conjunction with the State Patrol forms. The purpose of this list is to screen those who

are requesting to work with youth and children. The Church or Conference is not under obligation to

report the reason for placement on the list with anyone other than the accused.


B. Responding to Incidents Involving Physical Accidents

1. The person who witnesses the accident shall share this information with the event leader at the event/

activity. The first aid staff shall in turn fill out the Accident Report Form, report the incident to the key

leaders of the event, and notify the parents of the incident if this is deemed necessary by the first aid staff

or event leader.

2. The first aid staff and/or the event coordinator/leader is responsible for carefully documenting all

aspects of the incident using the Accident Report Form. This report shall be recorded in the log and

forwarded immediately to the Policy Supervisor of the church or staff person assigned to oversee this

group.

3. The event coordinator/leader shall make contacts as needed with the Conference insurance company

and the Church Pastor. This coordinator shall also determine whether there is need to for an investigation

or additional follow-up.


C. Responding to Allegations of Abuse

1. All reports of abuse shall be treated with utmost seriousness and confidentiality.

2. The highest priority shall be placed on securing the safety of the victim. In no case shall the accused by

confronted until the safety of the victim is secured.

3. The person who witnesses or hears the report of abuse directly from the child shall immediately share

this information with the event coordinator/leader, unless the person suspected of abuse is the event

leader, then the report should be made to the Policy Supervisor, Pastor, or the authorities, Child Protective

Services (CPS). The person who witnesses or hears of the abuse directly from the child is responsible for

filling out the Abuse Incident Report Form and for directly reporting the incident to CPS. The event

coordinator/leader or Policy Supervisor/DSO may assist this witness in reporting this incident to CPS and

documenting this incident on paper; but it is the responsibility of the witness to do the reporting directly

the appropriate agencies. The Policy Supervisor/DSO is responsible for ensuring the reporting and the

documenting of this incident is complete and is reported up to the Pastor, the Church Leaders, the

Conference, and Child Protective Services or to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

4. The Policy Supervisor/DSO is responsible for ensuring that the reporting, all of the documents and the

Abuse Incident Report Form are completed accurately. These reports will be forwarded immediately to the

Pastor, the Church Leaders, SPPR, the Conference and/or other designee(s).

5. The Policy Supervisor/DSO/Pastor will notify the parents of this abuse/incident when and if it is clear

that it is safe to do so.

6. Any volunteer or hired staff person accused of abuse shall be immediately relieved of duties related to

this or any other church event involving youth or children and be isolated from further contact with

participants, guests, and others who may be negatively impacted by the individual’s presence until the

review process is completed. The individual accused of abuse may not return to these types of duties until

the Policy Supervisor/DSO/Authorities has completed their review. This applies whether or not the alleged

act of abuse occurred during a church-related event.

7. Whether or not the alleged act occurred during a church-related event, the Pastor/Policy

Supervisor/DSO shall jointly review the incident to determine whether any additional actions are required.

They shall also report the incident to appropriate parties (i.e., civil authorities, the Conference insurance

company, etc.). All information concerning the incident shall be held in strict confidence by all parties

involved.

8. If the incident is put under investigation by appropriate civil authorities, the investigation will be

monitored by the Policy Supervisor/DSO and the Pastor/Church officials until there is an outcome. All

investigating will be the responsibility of civil authorities.

9. If there is no civil investigation, or once the investigation by civil authorities is completed, the Policy

Supervisor/DSO and/or Pastor/leaders shall jointly review the incident to determine whether any further

actions are needed.

10. The Policy Supervisor/DSO/Pastor is responsible for contacting the accused and informing the accused

of the nature of the process. The purpose of this meeting is not to interrogate the accused, but to discuss

the accusation. During meetings with the accused, one other mutually agreed-upon witness shall be

present (e.g. a local pastor, district superintendent, SPPR Chair or another Church Official, etc.).

11. After conducting a thorough review, the Policy Supervisor/DSO/Pastor shall report the findings to the

accused. If it is determined that the person has committed an act of abuse, the final goal of this process is

to establish a future covenant with the offender that regulates his or her behavior at all levels of

involvement with the Church. This covenant shall include both an agreed-upon record of what offending

actions were committed and agreed-upon solutions about what should be done in the future.

12. If no covenant is established, the accused shall remain removed from working with youth and children

in the Church until mediation is complete.

13. If no covenant is established, the accused may pick one mediator and the coordinator another

mediator. These two mediators will then pick a third mediator, and these three people, combined with the

accused and the coordinator, will come to a decision. The mutually-agreed upon mediator will serve as the

facilitator of this group.

14. The covenant that governs participation in church-related youth and children events shall clearly state

that failure to abide by the provisions of the covenant process shall result in permanent removal from

working with youth and children in the Church.

15. All documentation relating to the incident shall be confidentially filed in the Policy Supervisor/DSO

/Pastor’s locked files.

16. A list shall be maintained in conjunction with the Ministry Safe forms at the Church and Conference

office of those who may not participate in related events involving youth and children. The purpose of this

list is to screen those who are requesting to work with youth and children. The Church or Conference is not

under obligation to report the reason for placement on the list with anyone other than the accused.

17. If a person is under some form of removal due to violation of any of these policies/guidelines and fails

to report the same to a local church when initiating a desire to work with youth and children, that person

shall be permanently removed from working with youth and children at all UMC events.

18. The Church’s obligation to respond to allegations of abuse goes beyond the State’s requirements. As

Christians, we must also be prepared to respond to others:

a. Faithful response to the victim – take the allegations very seriously, respect the victim’s privacy,

provide sympathetic concern, no blaming the victim, absolutely no implication that the victim was in

any way responsible for causing the abuse.

b. Faith response to the Annual Conference – notify PNW Conference authorities (District

Superintendent, Bishop) as soon as allegations are received; keep them aware of Policy

Supervisor/DSO/Pastor’s actions; notify insurance agent, if appropriate.

c. Faithful response to the media – one person must be designated as spokesperson (our Pastor) in

advance and have a carefully constructed written response.

d. Faithful response to the accused abuse – acknowledge that the person is of sacred worth. Remove

accused abuser from position as a worker with youth and children until allegations are fully

investigated and resolved.


D. Responding to Illegal Behavior

Any volunteer or hired staff person accused of felonious activity involving children/youth/ vulnerable

adults shall be immediately relieved of duties related to this or any other church-sponsored event and shall be

isolated from further contact with participants, guests, and others who may be negatively impacted by the

individual’s presence until the review process is completed. If the felonious activity was not committed during

a church-related event, then the Policy Supervisor/DSO, along with the Pastor or SPPR or leader, shall have

discretion as to whether immediate or remedial action is required following the same procedures as listed

above (see IV.C. 1-19). The individuals accused of felonious activity may not return to duties until the church

leadership has completed a review and has approved them to return to their duties.



IV. CRISIS COMMUNICATION

1. A carefully constructed response should be kept on file with clergy, program staff persons, and the

official designated spokesperson (our Pastor) and an alternative chosen by the Administrative Council.

2. The District Superintendent and Bishop shall be informed of all investigations or allegations of abuse.

3. The spokesperson (our Pastor) for the Church should be a person who can speak calmly and thoughtfully

in the glare of publicity; the person should answer questions honestly without adding extra or unnecessary

information. He/She should be given permission to answer questions by saying, “I or we don’t know at this

time.” NO ONE but the spokesperson is authorized to speak on behalf of the congregation. Spokesperson

must be prepared to state the church’s policy for the prevention of child abuse, the church’s concern for

the safety of the victim and all children, and the procedures the church has followed to reduce the risk of

abuse. The spokesperson will have a prepared statement or written notes and not speak

extemporaneously. The spokesperson will never make any statement indicating that the Church does not

take the allegation seriously or in any way blame the victim.



V. REPORTING AND DOCUMENTATION OF INCIDENT


DO NOT SPEAK WITH ANY MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES!

NOTE: Reporting an incident is part of our Church’s Safe Sanctuary practice.

1. Determine if the allegation is serious or frivolous. In most cases, any allegation is considered to be

serious unless you have strong reason to believe otherwise. Serious allegations involving the abuse,

abandonment or neglect of a minor or vulnerable adult should be reported to authorities allowing

them to do the investigation (see #5). Other allegations should be reported to the Pastor, Event

Leader, or Safety Advocate (see #4).

2. In the State of Washington, any person who has cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or

neglect should report such incidents.

3. Procedures for dealing with abuse (please also refer to our full guidelines).

a. Secure safety of child/youth/vulnerable adult if possible.

b. IMMEDIATELY report incident to Pastor, Event Leader or Safety Advocate.

c. Contact the following with the assistance of the Pastor, Event Leader or Safety Advocate:

 Child Protective Services at 1-866-363-4276.

 District Superintendent or Director of Connectional Ministries

 Conference Staff relating to the Insurance, Camping or Youth Ministries.

 Family, as the situation merits.

 The Director of Connectional Ministries or their designate will serve as the liaison with

the media. Please direct any media inquiries to this person.

 Document all efforts per step #5 and submit a copy to Conference Staff.

4. Procedure for dealing with other serious allegations of safe sanctuary violations (please refer to full

guidelines).

a. Behaviors that hinder our mission undermine leadership/program, and neglect safety should

be taken seriously even when such behavior may not be ‘illegal.’ Reports should be directed

to the Pastor, Event Leader or Safety Advocate.

b. A resolution should be sought via direct or mediated conversation when possible, barring a

situation with an egregious violation.

c. If a resolution between arties is not possible, the Event Leader/Pastor shall have the authority

to proscribe a resolution. This may include a review of an individual’s future involvement in

ministries with vulnerable populations.

d. Document: In the case of all serious allegations, regardless of whether they require legal

intervention, document all efforts in the handling of the incident using the form attached. In

the case of an allegation that does not involve abuse, abandonment, neglect or other illegal

behavior; you may leave the non-applicable fields blank in those situations.