Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church
North Bethesda United Methodist Church (NBUMC)
Bethesda, Maryland
November 2008
At the 2008 charge conference, every local church was required to submit their Safe Sanctuaries plan.
The Baltimore-Washington Conference is committed to ensuring that all children and youth involved in conference ministries may participate in an environment of safety and security. To that end, all churches are required to have a Sanctuaries Plan and to fill out the Sexual Misconduct Questionnaire.
When the disciples tried to keep the children away from Jesus, he was quick to respond, “Let the children come to me.” Jesus taught that children were to be included and provided for within the community of faith. Today, the church may be the only place where some children find the unconditional love and care they so desperately need to grow and thrive. As Christians, we must take our responsibilities to our children very seriously. We fail in our responsibilities if we neglect to take adequate precautions against abuse in our churches. It is unlikely that we can completely prevent child abuse in every situation, but it is possible for us to greatly reduce the risk by following a thorough practical policy of prevention. This policy attempts to do just that for NBUMC. It is based on our understanding of the widespread problem of abuse throughout our country.
Every 15 seconds a child is abused or neglected. Often abuse occurs in settings where children, youth or vulnerable adults should have been able to feel safe – homes, schools,camps, and most sadly the church. In more than three quarters of the reported incidents of child abuse, the victim was related to or acquainted with the abuser.
The purpose of this policy is to protect all the children that come to us, to protect vulnerable adults, to protect both our paid and volunteer staff from potential false allegations of abuse and to limit the extent of legal liability of NBUMC. Presented herein is our plan which includes, what we believe to be, all the areas of the issue: Screening, Supervision, Reporting Procedures and a Response Plan. These delineated policies are the 2 MINIMUM necessary precautions for protecting children. NBUMC will endeavor to monitor updates and recommendations by The United Methodist Church and may modify these procedures. This policy shall be reviewed and updated by the Staff Parish Relations Committee on an annual basis.
This policy was approved, by the NBUMC Staff Parish Relations Committee on November 9,