Safe Church

Safe Church


The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan is committed to safeguard all of God’s children. This policy intends to demonstrate that commitment to creating safe environments, especially for children, youth, and vulnerable adults, from sexual, physical and/or personal abuse or exploitation.

Our theological foundation affirms that no one is to be deprived of the basic needs of food, drinking water, shelter, sleep, access to restrooms, safety, and clothing at any event. Further, no one shall be denied rights, status, or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of any program or activity because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, differing abilities, or socio-economic class.

The policy establishes training programs (supported by standards, guidelines, procedures and protocols) to create a safe environment for those to whom we minister, and for our own personal protection.

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This policy enables the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan to:

  • Promote best practices and pro-actively work in a way that can prevent harm, abuse, coercion to or exploitation of any vulnerable person
  • Ensure that any allegations of abuse or suspicion are dealt with appropriately and in compliance with the Canons of the Diocese of Michigan and the laws of the State of Michigan
  • Take appropriate measures to prevent or stop an abuse from occurring, including the requirement to attend training sessions, make application for various positions, and undergo various personal and background checks.

FAQs and Helpful Information

Theological Foundation

Living into our Baptismal Covenant, the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, and its affiliated congregations, and other entities, strive for justice and peace among all people. The obligation to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being is binding for all the baptized. The authority with which leaders — ordained persons and adults who minister with children, youth, and vulnerable adults — are entrusted, creates an inherent power imbalance in the pastoral relationship. This power imbalance derives from the leadership role and, in the case of clergy, the symbolic authority of an ordained person. Christian leadership is intended to provide occasions for guidance and grace, and its abuse is always and unequivocally wrong.

Ministry involves a necessary tension between a Gospel-based integrity and a Gospel-based intimacy as modeled by the life of Christ. A rigid adherence to a system of rules leads to an unproductive legalism. Yet, without the framework of the law, the intimate relationships into which Christ calls us are at risk of distortion and harm. All the people of God are called to minister authentically within this tension.

To this end, the diocese, and each individual congregation, institution, organization, school, and/or agency of the diocese is required to conduct a “Safe Church Self-Audit” every year to confirm compliance with diocesan Safe Church policy.

Procedures to confirm compliance by audit will include, but are not limited to, the following:

      • Existence of policy that is consistent with and/or exceeds the requirements of the model policies.
      • Provision of accessible and appropriate training for all those who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults, in accordance the “Screening and Training Protocols” standard. Such training will include, at a minimum, the topics identified in the model policies.
      • Verification that each congregation and/or Organization within the Diocese of Michigan has adopted a policy that is consistent with and/or exceeds the diocesan policy.
      • Verification that each congregation and/or Organization has a process to ensure members access training and is conducting public record background checks.

Universal Training is a 90 minute session that fosters a culture of safety and inclusion of all people, and covers a broad overview of issues regarding vulnerability, power, and healthy boundaries. Universal Training is designed to equip all people to live out their Baptismal Covenant. All members of the Episcopal Church shall have access to this training through diocesan resources.

Specialized training is a 6 hour session and includes:

  • The prevention, identification, and response to all forms of abuse and neglect.
  • Vulnerability within the pastoral relationship.
  • An introduction to gender non-binary
  • The needs of all LGBTQ+ individuals, including children and youth, and those of aging adults who often struggle to find care or residential facilities adequately equipped to meet their needs
  • The ways children and youth, and vulnerable adults can engage in self-advocacy
  • The needs of differently abled children, youth, and vulnerable adults

You need to take BOTH Universal and Specialized Safe Church Training if:

  • You are a church employee (full or part time), clergy (paid or unpaid), or diocesan staff
  • You are a supervisor (or have oversight responsibilities) of programs that involve: children, youth, Eucharistic ministers, Lay Eucharistic Visitors, home/hospital visitor, Stephen minister or pastoral visitation programs
  • You are a direct care giver or minister in programs that involve: children or youth (including Sunday School), Eucharistic Visitors, home/hospital visitor, Stephen minister or pastoral visitation programs
  • You are in governance of the church (vestry, bishop’s committee, warden, treasurer, etc.)

You need to take Universal training if:

  • You have key access to your church building (such as Altar Guild, building host or security)
  • You are a Eucharistic Minister only, a church contractor (1099), a choir parent, or driver for church programs

You need to renew your Safe Church training if:

  • It has been more than three years since you took “Safeguarding” or “Safe Church” training
  • You have only taken online “Safeguarding” or “Safe Church” training (Diocesan policy now requires in-person training)
  • In urgent cases, you may renew online with agreement to attend at a later date.


Detailed information on which classes are required for different positions and situations are listed  on Table 1 – Screening and Training Protocols, as found on page 16 of this policy.

To host either a Universal or Specialized Safe Church training at your congregation, please complete the Safe Church Hosting Form and email to Click here for information about pricing and scheduling a Safe Church training in your congregation.

For groups of 10 or more people, it is more affordable to host a Safe Church training at your congregation.

The Whitaker Institute offers regularly scheduled Universal and Specialized training throughout the year. Click here or scroll down to register. Click here for pricing and cancellation policies regarding our regularly scheduled courses.

Upcoming Safe Church Training Dates:

(Duration: 8:45am – 4pm)

2019 specialized training dates

January 12: St. Michael’s All Angels, 1325 Champaign Rd, Lincoln Park

February 9: St. Paul’s Brighton, 200 W St Paul St, Brighton

February 16: Christ Church, Cranbrook, 470 Church Rd, Bloomfield Hills

March 9: St. David’s Southfield, 16200 West Twelve Mile Road, Southfield

April 27: All Saints Lansing, 800 Abbot Road, East Lansing

May 11: St. John’s Clinton, 122 E. Church St. Clinton

June 22: Grace Southgate, 15650 Reeck Rd., Southgate

August 10: Cathedral of St. Paul, 4800 Woodward Ave. Detroit

Sept 14: St. James Dexter, 3279 Broad Street Dexter

Oct 12: Spirit of Grace, 2399 Figa Ave. West Bloomfield Township

Nov 9 Holy Cross Novi , 40700 W. 10 Mile Rd. Novi MI 48375

Payment, refund, registration and cancellation policy – HOSTED course
Payment, refund, registration and cancellation policy – SPECIALIZED course


Note: When paying with a credit/debit card, be sure to scroll to the very bottom of the Paypal payment screen to see this payment option. There is no need to have an existing Paypal account, nor is it necessary to create one. Simply scroll to the bottom of the Paypal payment page and you’ll see an option to pay with CREDIT/DEBIT.