Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren

Safe Church Policy


Recognizing our responsibilities to ensure that the church will be a safe place, we the members of the congregation of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren have adopted the following policies.


There are dangers that persist in our society today.  They may manifest themselves in the form of child abuse. Such abuse may be physical, sexual, and/or emotional.  This policy will address our responsibility to keep children and youth safe. This policy will discuss the screening process for volunteers, give guidelines for those who are actively involved with youth/children’s ministry, give guidelines for reporting suspected abuse, and give a response plan for suspected abuse.


SECTION I: SELECTION OF CHURCH STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS

  1. Pastoral staff (excluding interim) should come through the district placement process and will be screened by the District Executive Minister or his/her designee

  2. Volunteers, church staff, and those who serve in counseling positions who have unsupervised access to children, youth, or individuals with diminished mental or physical capacity will be screened in the following areas:

    1. A background check

    2. Screening form

    3. Reference check

  3. All volunteers and church staff who work with children, youth, or individuals with diminished mental or physical capacity will meet the following criteria:

    1. An active participant of the congregation (minimum of 6 months)

    2. Have two positive character recommendations (preferably church members, excluding relatives)

    3. Never convicted, pleaded guilty or no contest to any crime involving sexual misconduct or any offenses against children

    4. Valid driver’s license and certification of insurance, if driving will be included as part of their responsibilities


Applications used in the screening process will be completed online and stored on the Breeze church management system, accessible only to church staff and administrators.  Volunteer applications will be valid for a period of five years. Following that period, a renewal form must be completed and individual must attend Safe Church Training (in person or online) within 6 months.


SECTION II: SUPERVISION OF CHURCH STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS

Beacon Heights Church believes that children, youth, or individuals with diminished mental or physical capacity should be safe from all forms of abuse and neglect.  Therefore, we ask that all church staff and volunteer personnel should follow these policies:

  • Church programs have an open door policy.  The staff, pastors, and parents or guardians are free to visit and observe the program at any time unannounced.

  • The names of approved and trained volunteers will be made public to the congregation

  • Minimum of two persons should be available whenever possible for programs and activities involving children, youth, or individuals with diminished mental or physical capacity.  Assistance at programs may be given by people who do not meet these policy guidelines of Section I provided they are supervised and under the authority of persons meeting those guidelines.  Activities exempt are those part of Sunday morning programs (Sunday school, children’s chapel, etc.)

  • If meetings with individuals are needed, a pastoral staff member must have knowledge and parents of minors must be informed.

  • Because gift giving can be a form of buying silence or loyalty, volunteers are NOT to give gifts or money to individuals without the prior knowledge of parents of minors and pastoral staff.

  • Permission to sponsor an activity or event must be given by pastoral staff prior to the activity or event.

  • All those who work with children, youth, or individuals with diminished mental or physical capacity will receive training regarding church policies, discipline, grievance procedures, and appropriate touch.


SECTION III: EDUCATION

  1. Participants in the Inquirers’ Classes (membership) will receive information regarding the church’s policies about creating a safe place.

  2. Those working with children, youth, or individuals with diminished mental or physical capacity will receive training from the pastoral staff or designee about what constitutes abuse and sexual misconduct and how to report allegations.  This training will be offered annually and must be completed by volunteers every 5 years.

  3. The designated investigators of allegations will receive training about reporting and documenting allegations of abuse or misconduct.


SECTION IV: GUIDELINES FOR REPORTING SUSPECTED ABUSE

  1. All workers in ministry with children/youth have a personal responsibility and moral obligation to report any suspected abuse.

  2. The person observing or receiving disclosure of suspected abuse will contact a member of the pastoral team, board chair, staff relations committee chair, education commission chair, or Director of Christian Education to report the observation or disclosure immediately.  After having made the report, the person should not discuss it with anyone other than proper authorities. Appropriate investigation and action will be taken according to established guidelines.


SECTION V: RESPONDING TO ALLEGATIONS

  1. The church will take seriously all accusations of abuse or sexual misconduct.  The investigation of all allegations will begin within 10 days and will be documented in writing  

  2. Those who may receive an allegation are the pastoral team, the church board chair, staff relations committee chair, education commission chair, or the Director of Christian Education. The allegation will then be investigated by the trained designee.

  3. The pastoral staff or designee will contact the proper civil authorities concerning cases of (suspected) child abuse.  If the alleged perpetrator is subject to the district ethics committee process, the appropriate district person(s) will be notified.

  4. When allegations occur, the pastoral staff or church board chair will seek professional assistance from a local attorney, denominational officials, and our insurance agent.  Communication of information will be based on the need to know under the restrictions of qualified privilege.

  5. The alleged perpetrator’s responsibility and contact with children, youth, or individuals with diminished mental or physical capacity through church programs will be reviewed and appropriate action taken to ensure that the church is a safe environment.

  6. The pastoral team will designate a spokesperson for the congregation in dealing with any allegations of abuse or sexual misconduct.  If a member of the pastoral team isnot available or is the accused, the chair of the church board will be the designated spokesperson.