Safe Church Values and Practices

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church is committed to creating a worship and work community that is a safe haven for all of God’s people. All church staff and parishioner volunteers working with children and youth are required to take the Safe Church training offered by our Diocese called  Safeguarding God’s Children.”  In addition, criminal background checks are required by law.  Please click here to download a CORI form.  img_1235

Sensitivity

We are SENSITIVE to the personal physical boundaries of others. We practice “mirroring”; i.e. we embrace only when the other initiates the action and both are comfortable with the action. We encourage handshakes, fist bumps, pats on the back, and side hugs.

Awareness

We are AWARE of the actions and behaviors of others. We are conscious of appropriate interaction between adults and children. We are vigilant for signs that children, elders, and the physically and mentally challenged are being mistreated both inside and outside the church.

Fairness

We practice FAIRNESS when a person does not live up to our Safe Church values. In a case of misconduct, we contact the appropriate entities, including the Bishop’s office, the police, or the Dept. of Children and Families. We take mandated reporting seriously. All cases will be treated within the bounds of appropriate confidentiality.

Education

We EDUCATE ourselves about the issues that make the church a safer place. All volunteers who work with children and youth undergo the online “Safeguarding God’s Children” training and attend a debriefing session to discuss Safe Church issues. We believe that the dialogue about safe church practices is ongoing and important.

Community

We are a COMMUNITY that functions better when we work together. When working with minors, two adults are present at all times (or employ a roving adult) We embrace an open door policy and encourage parents to stop in at unscheduled times. We promote visibility in all situations, including private consultations.

Health

We celebrate that our church is a place of HEALTH and wholeness. Sexual misconduct, abuse, harassment, and exploitation of any kind are not tolerated. Our leadership maintains proper pastoral boundaries and personal self-care disciplines. Our physical plant promotes safety with clear signage, first aid kits, fire protocols, and adequate lighting.

Universality

We make these values UNIVERSAL by extending them to our lives outside the church. We recognize and celebrate that these values help us live out our Baptismal Covenant. We treat others with honesty, empathy, and respect. We treat social media interactions with minors as if it were happening at fellowship hour.

Respect

We RESPECT the dignity of everyone and seek and serve Christ in all persons. We engage only in appropriate, positive, constructive speech. Discrimination based on gender, race, religion, creed, color, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental challenge, medical condition, marital status, age, or sexual orientation is not tolerated.

Consistency

We are CONSISTENT in our volunteer recruitment practices. People new to the church wait six months before volunteering with ministries that involve direct contact with children. All volunteers fill out parish census form and agree to undergo CORI check. All volunteers acknowledge and agree to uphold these practices to the best of their ability.

Hospitality

We extend HOSPITALITY toward all who come to the church. Our church is a place for healing and wholeness where all are welcome. We live by these values, promoting a community where all people can worship God in a loving, caring, and nurturing environment.

WITH GOD’S HELP, WE PROMISE TO LIVE BY THESE VALUES!

*These Safe Church values and practices were written in 2010 and the implementation of them is an ongoing process. If you are from another church that is working on Safe Church issues, please feel free to use any or all of this document.
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