New England Conference Safe Sanctuaries Policies and Procedures


Adopted June 19, 2010* 
The policy below will be an appendix and subject to “sunset” policy VII.D.5

Every New England Annual Conference ministry at the local church, District and Conference level that relates to children, youth and vulnerable adults in programming or oversight, shall create procedures for implementing a Safe Sanctuaries policy. Administrative Teams of local churches, District and Conference ministries and programs, who give oversight to these ministries shall be responsible for implementing and monitoring the compliance of this minimum standard policy and its related procedures.

1. Each of the above ministries shall have a Safe Sanctuaries policy with accompanying procedures. These policies and procedures shall include:

  • Reasonable safety measures in the selection and recruitment of both paid and volunteer staff who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults**;
  • Reasonable safety procedures for conducting ministries, programs and events for children, youth and vulnerable adults;
  • Education of workers about the policy and procedures along with ongoing monitoring so that compliance is maintained;
  • Use of age and developmentally appropriate language in educating children, youth, and vulnerable adults regarding definitions of abuse and reporting procedures;
  • A method of reporting incidents of child, youth, and vulnerable adult abuse in accordance with relevant State Laws, the written guidelines of the New England Annual conference, and the written guidelines of the local United Methodist Church;
  • Sufficient liability coverage;
  • Measures to deal with the safety, protection, and ongoing emotional support of those who may have been victimized;
  • Guidelines for communication with family members, the congregation, the District, the Conference, and the public media;
  • The administrative and governing bodies of the local churches, and the District and Conference ministries and programs shall be responsible for implementing, monitoring and reviewing their own policies and procedures;
  • A copy of the policy shall be on file in the appropriate District Office (for local churches) or the Conference Office (for conference teams/agencies);
  • Yearly Safe Sanctuaries reviews shall be presented as follows:
  • Local churches shall present a yearly review to the District Superintendent at each Annual Charge or Church Conference; 
  • District and Conference Ministries shall present a yearly review to the Director of Connectional Ministries at each Annual Conference

2. Training and resourcing of the ministries covered in this policy shall be the responsibility of the Local Church Safe Sanctuaries Team, and/or the appropriate District and Conference programs with oversight of these ministries:

  • The Conference Safe Sanctuaries Task Force can help in providing resource materials. Please contact Dr. Elizabeth Windsor
  • The Local Church Safe Sanctuaries team shall be responsible for the conducting, and the cost of background checks for volunteers.  

Notes and Resources

*The original is on file in the 2010 New England Conference Journal

**One definition of Vulnerable Adult is any person, 18 years and older, who because of physical or mental infirmity or emotional disability, or other physical, mental or emotional dysfunction may be vulnerable to maltreatment. (Minnesota Law 626.557). We also mean vulnerable adults to be: those adults who work with children and/or youth and can be in a position where accusations of abuse could mistakenly arise; or adults who have been abused either as a child, youth or adult.

In order to encourage consistency across the annual conference and to ensure that key elements of Safe Sanctuaries practices are included, it is highly recommended that local congregations, districts and conference ministries utilize "Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse in the Church" by Joy T. Melton as a resource in the development of their policies.