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Creating Safe Havens: How St. Paul’s Upholds a Safe Place of Respect and Protection


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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.


In recognition of this important topic, we wanted to remind you of the ways we at St. Paul’s strive to create a safe environment free of any form of abuse, harassment, discrimination, and assault. We follow the denomination-wide policy called Safe Sanctuaries which seeks to do the following:


  • Protect our children, youth, and vulnerable adults

  • Protect those who minister to and work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults

  • Protect those in our care from physical, emotional, and spiritual harm

  • Honor those God entrusts to our care


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 following is a reflection on the adopted resolution. (Book of Resolutions, 2016 #3084)


The Social Principles also state, “...all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God.”

A central tenet of the Christian faith is the inherent value and worth of all children, youth, and adults. Children, youth, and other vulnerable people are least able to protect themselves in our society and are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The United Methodist Church is eager to do all it can to protect the youth, children, and other vulnerable people who participate in the life of this congregation.


We believe implementing a policy and adopting procedures to protect our children, youth, and other vulnerable people recognizes that:


Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to our children, youth, and other vulnerable people. The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church state, “...children must be protected from economic, physical and sexual exploitation and abuse.”


The Social Principles also state, “...all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God.”


Tragically, churches have not always been safe places for children, youth, and other vulnerable people. Neglect, sexual abuse, and exploitation occur in churches, both large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural, racial, and ethnic lines. God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children, youth, and other vulnerable people from abuse.


Abuse prevention and ministry protection policies and procedures are essential for congregations, not only for the protection and safety of our children, youth, and other vulnerable persons, but also for our volunteers and staff working with them.


The Gospel calls us to be engaged in ministry with children, youth, and other vulnerable persons (Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church for Children and Youth, page 10).


Jesus taught, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Mark 9:37 NRSV) and “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 NRSV).


Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to our children, youth, and other vulnerable people.

We should not allow possible risks to undermine or stop our ministry. Rather, we must:


  • Acknowledge the risks and develop a practical plan to address these issues;


  • Take steps to prevent harm to our children, youth, and other vulnerable persons; an


  • Continue to answer the Gospel’s imperative to be in ministry with children, youth, and other vulnerable persons, thus making a difference in their lives. (adapted from Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church for Children and Youth, page 10).


Safe Sanctuaries policies and implementation of practices that reflect those policies seek to fulfill this call for our church.


If you are interested in reading our Safe Sanctuaries policy at St. Paul’s, copies are available in the office.



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