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.

Track 1 = “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. This course can be offered free for your congregation (contact Whitaker to schedule) or you can take it online; simply email Vicki Hesse at for a link.

Track 2 = “Advanced” will be a deep dive into the policy for implementing the Safe Church Policy in your specific ministry role.  We will begin the course with Track 1, then move to Track 2 for the second 90 minute segment.  The total Track 2 course will be 3 hours. This course is in development and is due out over the summer of 2019.

Track 3 = “Specialized” training is a 6 hour session for supervisors of programs. There is no prerequisite for this course; it 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

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:


2019 TRACK 1 training dates

July 16: Holy Faith – 6299 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd, Saline, MI 48176 (7pm to 8:30pm)
(Sign up for this session by contacting Laurie Tikkanen at


2019 TRACK 2 training dates

May 29: Grace, Detroit – 1926 Virginia Park St, Detroit, MI 48206 (10:30am to 2:30pm)

July 13: Christ Church, Detroit – 960 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48207 (9am to 12pm)


2019 TRACK 3 training dates
(Duration: 8:45am – 4pm)

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 – Tracked courses


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.