Safe Sanctuary Policy of FUMC GJ for the prevention and risk reduction of abuse

In all of our ministries with children and youth, this congregation is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so that each child will be “…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)               Safe Sanctuary Mission Statement of First United Methodist Church Grand Junction

First United Methodist Church of Grand Junction is a spiritual community, which takes seriously its responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children, youth and vulnerable adults who participate in our ministries.  In keeping with our covenant relationship with God, and our membership vows of this congregation, we honor our Lord and all who seek Him, by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with Him (Micah 6:8)

Every church servant plays a key role in fostering the spiritual development of individuals and families in our church community.  The disturbing and traumatic rise of physical and sexual abuse of children, youth and vulnerable adults has claimed the attention of our nation and society.  The following statements reflect the commitment of this congregation to provide a safe environment for all children, youth and vulnerable adults and church workers who participate in church-sponsored ministries.

In an effort to provide a safe community, this church requires all church employees and volunteers to commit themselves to the Safe Sanctuary Policy for the Protection of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults adopted by the Administrative Council of this Church.  As members and participants in the programs and undertakings of this household of faith, we pledge to conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with the teachings of Christ and that we will guard our thoughts and tongues, will refrain from any behaviors which corrupt our witness for Christ, and that our actions and choices will reflect prudence, purity of heart, and an earnest love for the will of God.  Children and youth are defined as minors that are anyone under age of 18.  A vulnerable adult is an individual, age 18 or over, who, because of age, developmental disability, mental illness, or physical handicap require supervision or personal care and lacks the personal and social skills required to live independently.  Commitment to this policy will require church workers to provide personal information, review the church's Safe Sanctuary policy and understand that they will be under the supervision of their respective leaders.

The General Conference of The United Methodist Church, in April, 1996, adopted a resolution aimed at reducing the risk of child sexual abuse in the church.  The adopted resolution includes the following statement:

Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes [a] child…welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5).

Children are our present and our future, our hope, our teachers, our inspiration.

They are full participants in the life of the church and in the realm of God.

Jesus 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 fastened 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 the little ones, the children.  The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that “children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional and sexual exploitation and abuse” (p 162).

Tragically, churches have not always been safe places for children.  Child sexual abuse, exploitation, and ritual abuse [“ritual abuse” refers to abusive acts committed as part of ceremonies or rites; ritual abusers are often related to cults, or pretend to be] occur in churches, both large and small, urban and rural.  The problem cuts across all economic, cultural, and racial lines.  It is real, and it appears to be increasing.  Most annual conferences can cite specific incidents of child sexual abuse and exploitation within churches.  Virtually every congregation has among its members adult survivors of early sexual trauma.

Such incidents are devastating to all who are involved: the child, the family, the local church and its leaders.  Increasingly, churches are torn apart by the legal, emotional, and monetary consequences of litigation following allegations of abuse.

God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from sexual and ritual abuse.  God calls us to create communities of faith where children and adults grow safe and strong. (From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church-2000, pp.180-181.  © 2000 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

Our Pledge – As a Christian community of faith and a United Methodist congregation, we pledge to engage in the ministry of the Gospel in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of all of our children and youth as well as all of the workers with children and youth. We will follow 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 and youth regarding the use of appropriate policies and methods; we will have a clearly defined procedure for reporting a suspected incident of abuse that conforms to the requirements of state law; we will be prepared to respond to media inquiries if an incident occurs

Full Policy Available – Binders with the complete Safe Sanctuary policy of FUMC G.J. are available in the church library, and by request from the pastors. It includes, yet is not limited to: procedures for background checks, annual orientations/trainings, after care for everyone involved in allegations, follow-through instructions and media responses.