Our Conference Safe Sanctuaries Team is tasked with providing training, resources, and oversight to all churches in the North Carolina Annual Conference so that children, youth, and vulnerable adults entrusted to the care of our churches are safe and protected. Every church in our Conference is required to have a Safe Sanctuaries policy in place that is enforced, reviewed regularly, and updated as needed. However, many congregations fail to recognize the significance of this responsibility. Our team often encounters churches that are in denial that abuse can happen in their congregations and, because of that, do not take their Safe Sanctuaries policy as seriously as they should. We also recognize that there is not a one-size-fits-all Safe Sanctuaries policy that can be applied to every church. Policies should reflect the unique context and ministries of each local church.
We understand the struggle that churches experience as they seek to have honest, and sometimes difficult, conversations around Safe Sanctuaries. But we also understand the connection between Safe Sanctuaries and every single ministry our churches offer. It is our goal to help bridge the gap so that local churches can faithfully live into their policies while extending grace, love, mercy, and hospitality to everyone as we work together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Due to the pandemic, there have been changes to the team. We have an entirely new team and so they need to be oriented to what the purpose of this team is. Also, because it’s a new team, we need to envision new goals–how are we going to keep our church communities safe in a post-pandemic world?
The Committee offered an opportunity for participation in an interactive, on-line Safe Sanctuaries training course this past year. It was well-attended.
Submitted by: Stephanie Downey, Chairperson