Safe Sanctuaries

What is Safe Sanctuaries?

Safe Sanctuaries is the name commonly given by local United Methodist Annual Conferences and local churches to their individual efforts to make conference, district and local church programs welcoming and safe for children and youth; it is also a series of guidebooks to assist ministries in making spaces that are as safe as possible. These guidebooks are primarily written by United Methodist deacon and lawyer Joy Thornburg Melton and are available through Cokesbury. You can find a list of the “basics” here

Is There a Set Standard of Care that Local Churches Must Follow?

Although Safe Sanctuaries is a guide published to help local congregations in planning, Safe Sanctuaries, Discipleship Resources, The United Methodist Church and the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church are not engaged in the practice of law and accounting. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a professional advisor should be sought. The Louisiana Conference merely hopes to provide information that may be helpful to churches in developing their own risk reduction policies. The Conference Office can also offer video and personnel to assist local congregations. Contact us at (225) 346-1646 or (888) 239-5286 if you are interested.

Why do we need to have a Safe Sanctuaries program?

As a Conference, we believe the physical and emotional safety, as well as the spiritual growth of all God's children and youth, is important. We as a Conference are committed to the holistic well-being of each child, youth and adult entrusted to us. We believe that we as a Church must take reasonable steps to love and protect our children and youth while they are involved in programs and activities provided in and by our local churches, districts and our Conference. In addition, we must take reasonable steps to love and protect those adults who work with our children and youth. The resolution Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse in the Church was adopted in 1996 and reaffirmed in 2000 and 2004 by the General Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Some churches might find risk reduction procedures inconvenient or necessitating extra effort to find, train and evaluate those who work with our youth and children. We prefer to ask: How far will you go to ensure that every youth or child is “surrounded by steadfast love, established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal"?  (Baptismal Covenant II , United Methodist Hymnal , p. 44). In all of our ministries with children and youth, the Louisiana Conference is committed to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ. Safe Sanctuaries demonstrates our commitment to the physical safety and spiritual growth of all our children and youth.


Safe Sanctuary Links

Internet Safety

Here are some things to get you started on thinking about internet safety. Check back often, as will will be adding material to this page from time to time. Many police departments and Sheriff's Offices, as well as the State Attorney General's Office, are able to provide speakers on internet predators and safety. 

Online Resources

  • The Parental Authority to be Involved PDF  PPT: This presentation was created by Rev Stephen Streett of Dunwoody UMC (Atlanta, Ga) to educate, encourage and entice parents to become more actively involved in their students' online lives.
  • A Parents Guide to Internet Safety (FBI) This pamphlet helps you to begin to understand the complexities of on-line child exploitation.
  • CyberAngels
  • A place for teens and parents to learn how to use the Internet safely. No preaching, just good advice.
  • Wired The world's largest online safety and help group

Additional Points Of Interest

  • The FBI offers 2 sites geared toward educating adults and young ones about internet safety.
    One geared toward Teachers and Students and another geared toward Parents.

  • The office of the Louisiana Attorney General offers Cyber Safety Tips

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