Safe Sanctuary Policy
When the crowd tried to keep the children away from Jesus, he was quick to respond, "Let the children come to me." Jesus taught that children were to be included and provided for within the community of faith. As Christians, we must take our responsibilities to our children very seriously. We fail in our responsibilities if we neglect to take adequate precautions against abuse in our churches. It is unlikely that we can completely prevent child abuse in every situation, but it is possible for us to greatly reduce the risk by following a thorough practical policy of prevention. This policy attempts to do just that for any group that deals with children and youth.
Below are just a few of the policies that our Church has adopted to ensure the safety of our youth and children. We encourage everyone in our congregation to become familiar with the entire policy by downloading our Safe Sanctuaries documentation. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the church office.
- A ‘staff person’ is any adult, paid or unpaid, who is working in a supervisory capacity with children/youth with a ministry under the auspices of and or endorsed by Garner United Methodist Church that involves children and/or youth aged birth to 17 years old. A Background Check shall be conducted of each staff person through a third-party company (outside the membership of the church).
- Any group whose activity involving children or youth 17 years old and younger that does not fall under the responsibility of a Garner United Methodist Church age-level director and/or coordinator. Each outside group, including those currently using Garner United Methodist Church facilities, will be identifiable by submitting the Trustees' revised "Building Use Application Form," which will be kept in the church office files. In that file, there will also be a form which must be signed by a person representing the outside group that states that he/she has received a copy of the Safe Sanctuaries policy of Garner UMC and that the group agrees to abide by that policy at all times while using the facilities and property of Garner UMC.
- 'Two-Staff Rule': Requires that no fewer than two staff members be present at all times in the supervising of children and youth during a program or event. In the event that multiple
Bible studies, programs, and/or Sunday school classes have only one staff member present or two persons related to each other, there must be another staff person who will monitor the activity; for example, by looking in on or entering each room every 15 minutes. Should a staff member find himself/herself to be out of compliance with this section, he/she will take immediate action to rectify it. (For example, this rule can be satisfied by asking another parent who has had his/her background checked to assist with the activity). If all efforts to find another adult to help fails, then parents will be called to pick up their children/youth and the activity will be terminated.
- 'Five-Year Rule': In the event that a young adult (18 or older) wishes to volunteer with the youth program (ages 12-17), the volunteer must be at least 5 years older than the oldest youth/child in the group. That volunteer must follow all other rules listed in this policy statement.
- No Supervisors under the Age of Eighteen Rule' : 1. Paid and unpaid staff and volunteers serving with children/youth will be at least 18 years of age unless directly supervised by an adult at least 23 years of age. 2. If someone under 18 would like to volunteer, there will be an unrelated staff member present with him or her.
- Classroom Windows: Classroom windows will have full visual access. Room decorations will not cover or obstruct window openings.
- Preschool and young children's classes should take scheduled restroom breaks. Two staff members will escort a group of children to the restroom. If only one child needs to use the restroom, one staff member may escort the child and prop the outside door open. Diaper Changing: Area should be located where at least one other unrelated adult/staff member can view the changing process.