Safe Sanctuaries

POLICY OF TOWSON UNITED METHODIST CHURCH 

FOR THE PREVENTION OF ABUSE OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH

 

Statement of Purpose

The General Conference of The United Methodist Church, in April 1996, adopted a resolution aimed at reducing the risk of child sexual abuse in the church.  The adopted resolution includes the following statement:

   Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes [a] child…welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5).  Children are our present and our future, our hope, our teachers, our inspiration.  They are full participants in the life of the church and in the realm of God…
   Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to the youth and children.  The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that “children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional, and sexual exploitation and abuse” (162C).
   Tragically, churches have not always been safe places for children.  Child sexual abuse, exploitation, and ritual abuse occur in churches, both large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural, and racial lines...
   Such incidents are devastating to all who are involved: the child, the family, the local church, and its leaders.  Increasingly, churches are torn apart by the legal, emotional, and monetary consequences of litigation following allegations of abuse.

   God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from sexual and ritual abuse.  God calls us to create communities of faith where children and adults grow safe and strong… (From the Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2004, pp. 201-203.  Copyright 2004 by The United Methodist Publishing House.  Used by permission.)

The Baltimore-Washington Conference is committed to ensuring that all children and youth involved in local church or annual conference Ministries may participate in an environment of safety and spiritual growth.  In that light,
The Towson United Methodist Church (“TUMC”) has developed policies and procedures to protect the children and youth involved in our ministries.

The congregation of TUMC recognizes the need to have formal, written policies and procedures to help
(i) prevent the opportunity for the occurrence and/or appearance of abuse of children and youth and (ii) protect Workers from false accusations and/or suspicions.  The following policies and procedures are not based on a lack of trust in Workers, but instead are intended to protect our preschoolers, children, youth, Workers and the entire church body.  Workers are required to follow these policies and procedures.

Statement of Covenant

Therefore, as a Christian community of faith and a United Methodist congregation, we pledge to conduct the ministry of the gospel in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of all our children and youth as well as all Workers with children and youth.  We will follow reasonable safety measures in the selection and recruitment of paid and volunteer Workers, we will implement prudent operational procedures in all programs and events, we will educate all of our Workers with children and youth regarding the use of all appropriate policies and methods (including the nature and indicators of abuse and prevention), we will have a clearly defined procedure for reporting suspected incidents of abuse that conforms to the requirements of state law, and we will be prepared to respond to media inquiries if an incident occurs.

Conclusion

In all of our Ministries with children and youth, this congregation is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ so that each child will be “surrounded by steadfast love,…established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal” (“Baptismal Covenant II,” United Methodist Hymnal, p.44).

Thus, in covenant with all United Methodist congregations, we adopt this policy (“Policy”) for the prevention of child abuse in our church.

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