Safe Church is a dynamic and interactive process designed to take an ecumenical “cluster” of congregations through a one-year process for protection of children and youth from sexual abuse. The goal is to shift congregational culture to one in which adults are equipped and inspired to be proactive in preventing child sexual abuse—not only in the church, but in the broader community. The focus is on sexual abuse because of its persistent prevalence in our culture, the reluctance of child victims to disclose, its long-term psychological, medical and spiritual consequences, and the stigma and shame carried by many adult survivors with invisible wounds that haunt them for decades of life.
Developed by the Samaritan Counseling Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and funded by the Ms. Foundation for Women, the process is part of a groundbreaking effort to end child sexual abuse across the United States.http://forwomen.org/content/9/en/child-sexual-abuse
What is the 5-Day Intensive?
A 30-hour module for religious leaders from a broad spectrum of theological traditions to equip them to facilitate Safe Church process in their own congregations, or in a cluster of churches.
Participants will be provided with material valued at more than $450.00 for their use in leading a one-year Safe Church process, including a flash drive with training material to lead a group of congregations (or a single church) through the one year process; Samaritan’s Safe Church training DVD for staff and volunteers; and a child and youth healthy boundaries curriculum. The training and material will include mandated reporting requirements for child abuse in the state of PA; applicants from other states will need to determine the reporting specifics in their state and modify the material for their use accordingly.
Participants must have at least two years of congregational experience as an ordained clergy or lay leader; be committed to developing programs in congregations; be willing to identify and utilize secular resources in their communities when working with congregations in the Safe Church process; and have basic understanding of congregations as emotional systems. Participants should bring a notebook/laptop capable of reading/editing word documents and power points.
Participants completing this 5-Day Intensive will:
- Be guided in use of an interactive policy template to develop a comprehensive child & youth protection policy in their congregation or judicatory, or to revise an existing policy with best practices by using the policy template and other material provided in the training.
- Prepare a theological framework grounded in their own tradition articulating why protecting children from sexual abuse is a core part of their mission and identity.
- Understand the prevalence and impacts of child sexual abuse, including the primary spiritual wounds common in victims and the influence on one’s understanding of God.
- Be able to identify common sources of resistance in a congregation when engaging in sustained conversation about child sexual abuse, and design strategies to meet these challenges, including provision of pastoral care to victims and offender
- Participate in field education to visit with clergy in churches in Lancaster County that have completed the Safe Church process
- Design a worship resource for use in raising congregational awareness about child sexual abuse and call people of faith to specific action to prevent it.
Material provided to participants:
Flash drive contains: 6 PowerPoint presentations for Safe Church “team” training and policy development; the policy template and appendix forms; agendas for each team meeting; two power point presentations for adult education in churches; power point for use in training staff and volunteers when policies are completed; survivor retreat format; administrative material for project management.
Safe Church Training DVD: Protecting Children & Youth from Sexual Abuse (a 2-hour DVD produced by Samaritan for use in training staff and volunteers).
Circle of Grace: Christian Safe Environment curriculum – Kindergarten – Grade 12.
To download the Safe Church Brochure, please click here.