Church Safety and Safe Conduct Ministry
Church Safety and Safe Conduct Ministry
Healthy boundaries are essential to church safety and safe faith communities.
It is important to create safe spaces which are bound by covenant and demonstrate our core Christian values in every congregation. In covenant with the United Church of Christ, it is the responsibility of church leaders, authorized and lay, to offer guidance, resources, and training to the members and friends of each church regarding the safe boundaries that congregation expects will protect every setting of its ministry.
The problem of sexual abuse of children is not someone else's problem. It doesn't just happen in the home, or in some other town. It happens at churches of all denominations and at church-operated camps, schools and day care centers. The Southern New England Conference is committed to educating and supporting our churches to create and update policies and procedures that limit its risk in all areas of ministry and mission. Providing a safe place for all vulnerable populations; of children, youth and those who are elderly or developmentally vulnerable and the church leaders who supervise them is a core value of our mission and ministry.
Here you will find links to materials specific to Safe Conduct© work through the United Church of Christ Insurance Board and other agencies and insurers who offer resources for congregations who are doing and updating this work. It is important to do this work at regular intervals to ensure that you are able to achieve the highest level of standards and compliance possible to protect the most vulnerable among us (minors, elders, developmentally disabled) and to protect the faith community you love.
Resources, Links and Publications on Safe Church and Safe Conduct Policies:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship" (The section beginning on page 23 addresses active shooters.) For more general information about Disaster Resources visit the MACUCC page by clicking here.
- Getting help from the United Church of Christ to adopt a Safe Church Conduct Policy: www.ucc.org/ministers/safe/
- Don Clark, general counsel for the UCC, has put together a sample generic policy for local churches to use that includes a timeline and outline for creating a Safe Church Conduct Policy. Visit: www.ucc.org/ministers/safe/SafeChurchPolicy.pdf
You can also download a WORD version so you can edit the forms.
- The United Church of Christ Insurance Board (UCCIB), which provides property and liability insurance to UCC congregations, has written to its policy holders about the need for child protection management policies and procedures in local churches. The UCCIB program's current underwriter will be requiring that churches have such a policy to be eligible for Abusive Acts Liability Coverage.
The UCCIB SafeConduct™ Workbench provides tools to help you develop and participate in your ministry’s abuse prevention program. These include access to services and other reference materials:
- Creating Safer Places for Ministry published by the UCC Insurance Board.
- Sample Insurance Board Online Self Assessment
Understanding your responsibilities as a staff or lay person serving a church in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
CORI (background) checks
Massachusetts state law requires all volunteer organizations that provide activities or programs to children to conduct CORI background checks of the volunteers. The law also requires CORI checks any time there is a potential for someone to have unmonitored contact with a child. The Southern New England Conference strongly recommends that all MA churches conduct CORI checks of all employees and volunteers who have contact with children, i.e. Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, choir directors, etc. and all paid staff. Third party background companies, by law, do not have access to MA state records unless authorized by the organization or agency.
Your church can register to do CORI checks online. Read the iCORI Quick Reference Guide for Organizations and then register your church with the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services to properly access iCORI. Each church is allowed two "representatives" who may submit, review and access CORI results. Due to confidentially issues, the "representatives" should have a position of lay leadership and the pastor should NOT be considered for this role.
The historic Mass. Conference adheres to the model CORI policy established by the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services.
In Massachusetts, "Mandated Reporters" must immediately make an oral or written report to the state when, in their professional capacity, they have reasonable cause to believe that a child under 18 is suffering from abuse or neglect. Under state law, the following are included in the list of mandated reporters: Clergy members, including ordained or licensed leaders of any church or religious body, persons performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body, or persons employed by a religious body to supervise, educate, coach, train or counsel a child on a regular basis
To learn more:
- Read the brochure from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) about Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting: A Guide for Mandated Reporters
- Report of Child(ren) Alleged to be Suffering from Serious Physical or Emotional Injury by Abuse or Neglect
Sex Offender Resources
- Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries
- Massachusetts Legislature
Sex Offender Registry Law: Mass. Gen. Laws c.6 s.178C-178P:
Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 119 - Protection And Care Of Children, And Proceedings Against Them
Section 51A - Reporting of suspected abuse or neglect; mandated reporters; collection of physical evidence; penalties; content of reports; liability; privileged communication.
- Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR)
Department Of Criminal Justice Information Services
Sex Offender Registry Board: Registration, Classification And Dissemination
- Department of Children and Families
Glossary 110 CMR 2.00 - http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dcf/regs/110cmr2.pdf
Web Resources: Children and Family - http://michaelrichlaw.com/children_and_family.html