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.
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.
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.
To assist in understanding the breadth and intent of the Safe Church policy, attendance at safe church training sessions, as established by the Diocese of Michigan, is required of Church Personnel, appropriate to each person’s function, in accordance with Table 1 – Screening and Training Protocols, as found on page 16 of this policy, within 6 months of acceptance of position. The Whitaker Institute offers Safe Church Training according to this 2018 Diocesan Policy. This training provides information and/or instructions to strengthen and enhance the recipient’s understanding, capacity, and exercise of ministry
All Church Personnel shall have Universal Training 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.
Persons with Supervisory responsibilities, and those with oversight responsibilities for ministry programs and/or other adults who engage in ministry with children, youth, and vulnerable adults shall have Specialized training that is tailored to their role and ministry function.
Specialized training 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
Certification of training shall be renewed every three (3) years.
Congregations may host a Specialized training at your site. Click here. for information about pricing and scheduling. For more than 10 persons, this is a more affordable approach.