MUMC Safe Sanctuary Program


Consider the following scenarios that could easily occur within the scope of all the activities in which our church is engaged:

  • Imagine that you are leading Children’s Church by yourself one Sunday. A new child experiences what appears to be a seizure while in your care. You have no one over the age of 4 that you can send for help. What do you do?
  • Imagine that you are a Sunday School teacher. One Sunday, one of your students arrives with visible bruises. When you question the child, the response you get doesn’t make sense. What do you do?
  • As a volunteer with the Helping Hands ministry, you arrive alone at the home of an older church member to repair a toilet. You notice that she seems a bit confused while you are there, but you complete the repair without incident. Later on, the member calls to complain that someone from the church entered her house without permission. What does the church do?

To avoid areas of vulnerability such as these, our church has developed a Safe Sanctuaries Policy so that we can ensure a safe environment for our children, youth, vulnerable adults, and all those who work in ministry with them. It also helps us to protect our church as a whole by ensuring that we are doing everything we can to comply with the requirements of our insurance policy, our conference, and the global United Methodist Church. This is not a program that we have developed in isolation. We are following the recommendations set before us by the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, and adapted them to the individual needs of our congregation.

Having an approved Safe Sanctuary policy is a requirement for all United Methodist churches. This policy has led to some changes in our congregational life. We can be very proud of the fact that we are doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable church members, as well as those who take the time to work with them. To make this policy successful, we need the support and commitment of our congregation, in all areas of our congregational life.

A key part of the policy is two-deep leadership, so that no adult is ever left alone with a child, youth, or vulnerable adult. This requires a larger pool of volunteers for many activities. It requires additional training and background checks for many volunteers, and requires that we provide funds to make these possible. WE ALL NEED TO WORK TOGETHER so that we can continue to offer the same quality ministries and programming for our congregation and community.

For more information on Safe Sanctuaries, we encourage you to go to our conference website at http://www.gnjumc.org/pages/detail/316. It has information about training, background checks, and sample polices used by our conference and other churches. For specific information about our Safe Sanctuary policy, contact the church off to speak with one of our pastors or send an email to safesanctuary@medfordumc.org.