Towards Safe(r) Congregations
You might have noticed that the Winter 2014 issue of the UU World has three articles that remind us of the importance of creating and following Safe Congregations policies. Our congregation has a number of core practices that are part of every Safe Congregation policy – we do background checks on all employees and volunteers who work with minors, we have a code of ethics that our teacher-volunteers sign, our registration process provides us with emergency contact and medical information, a minimum of two teacher-volunteers are in each classroom or with each group, and so on. Safe Congregations policies also include such things as making sure that fire drills are done each year for the entire congregation, classroom doors have windows in them or are left open, and the location of first aid boxes, fire extinguishers, and defibrillators.
Practices such as these are in alignment with the policies and procedures in our communities, schools, recreation programs, and the expectations of insurance companies. They are not outside the norm in the 21st century. First Church has many of the basics covered in terms of best practices, but it does not have a written Safe Congregations policy. The next step is to see that our best practices are formalized into a written policy for First Church in Belmont.