Scripture and our United Methodist tradition inform us in our belief that all human life is of sacred worth, perhaps children most of all. Hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:5-6: "Whoever welcomes (a) child, welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones.... it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea."
With the Book of Discipline, we affirm that our youth, our children and the vulnerable adults in our care are full human beings in their own right but, because they are particularly vulnerable, they are our sacred trust to whom we have special responsibility (Paragraph 162.III.C)> The Church is particularly accountable to provide a safe environment for youth/children (Paragraph 161.II.H.) and vulnerable adults.
Therefore, as a covenanted Christianity community of faith, it is the purpose of Bear Creek United Methodist Church to conduct all youth/children and adult-related events in ways that promote the safety and spiritual growth of all our youth/children and vulnerable adults, as well as all of the workers with youth/children and vulnerable adults who also participate in these events.
This policy and its provisions shall apply to all paid and unpaid staff, whether lay or clergy who have any contact with youth/children and adults who participate in any church activities or events. Any person may become the object of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Persons in subordinate power positions are especially vulnerable-not only children and youth but also adults, such as developmentally or physically disabled and those experiencing grief due to recent loss. Such abuse is incompatible with God's covenant of love with us and our covenant of love with each other.
For the purposes of this document
- Children are infant through fifth grade
- Middle school are grades sixth through eight grade
- Senior high are grades ninth through twelfth grade
- Adults are eighteen years of age and older who have completed their senior year of high school.
- During the summer, the grade level of the child is defined as the grade that they will be entering in the fall.
- A vulnerable adult is a person eighteen years of age or older whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection is impaired due to a mental, emotional, long-term physical, or developmental disability, or dysfunction, or brain damage, or the infirmities if aging.
Our congregation's purpose for establishing this Safe Church Policy and accompanying procedures is to demonstrate our absolute and unwavering commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all of our children, youth, and vulnerable adults.
A HIGHER STANDARD
As ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we must strive to be worthy of a high standard of trust. For this reason, every worker at Bear Creek UMC must avoid even the appearance of inappropriate behavior. All workers both paid and volunteer must diligently avoid any contact that appears wrong to a reasonable observer, even if no misconduct takes place.
STATEMENT OF COVENANT
Therefore, as a Christian community of faith and a United Methodist congregation, we pledge to the best of our ability to conduct the ministry of the gospel in ways that assure the safety and spiritual growth of all our children/youth, as well as the workers with them. We will follow the reasonable safety measures in the selection and recruitment of workers; we will implement prudent operational procedures in all programs and event; we will educate all of our workers with children, youth and vulnerable adults regarding the use if all appropriate policies and methods (including first aid and methods of discipline); we will have a clearly defined procedure for reporting a suspected incident of abuse that conforms to the requirements of state law; and we will be prepared to respond to media inquiries if an incident occurs.