OUR SAFE CHURCH POLICY
The aim of this policy is to make our Church a safe place, safe for those who worship, safe for those who minister, safe for those who come in need, safe for children and safe for all who seek or serve Christ. We believe that this policy helps us live out our Baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being.
This policy applies to the Clergy, the employees, the officers and vestry, and the people of God’s Church in this place.
The Parish of St. Stephen’s in Westborough will, as a matter of policy, do background checks on all employees and any volunteers who regularly work with children, youth and other vulnerable populations.
In addition, no volunteers will be permitted to work with children, youth or as pastoral care volunteers until they have been known personally to the Rector or Wardens for at least six months.
Firearms and concealed weapons are prohibited on church property and may not be brought to offsite church events except by special exception and written permission by the Rector.
CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Plans for all events and ministries for children and youth other than scheduled Sunday school classes must be prepared in advance and approved by the Rector. Such plans are to be based on at least two unrelated adults being present.
All Sunday school classes may only be held in facilities where two unrelated adults can be present. In the event that staffing levels or local conditions (i.e. bathroom coverage, infant changing, etc.) mandate that staffing be reduced to one adult, that adult must be in line of sight of another adult. Infractions must be reported immediately to the Rector.
No events or meetings for children or youth are to take place in a private residence without the prior approval of the Rector and the Vestry. This includes the use of such residences during a mission trip away from the church. Use of such facilities must be discussed fully in advance and monitored during such use. Infractions must be reported to the Rector as part of the Mission reporting.
A summary poster of this policy will be displayed prominently in areas where Children and Youth Activities occur. Clear lines of responsibility and authority will be included and updated as changes occur and the use of such policies will be checked frequently by the Rector or his representative.
MINISTRY TO THE SICK AND SHUT-INS
All pastoral visitors including Lay Eucharistic Visitors must have received current Safe Church Training provided by the Diocese within the last three years. Records of such training will be maintained in the Office. Visits to parishioners in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and assisted living facilities are subject to safe church precepts. In the event that a visitor cannot be accompanied by another adult, the visitor must contact nursing staff for that unit, state their intent to enter the patient’s room and ask the staff person involved to check in frequently during the visit. Where consistent with the facilities rules and procedures, doors to the room of the patient are to be kept open. When leaving, advise the nursing staff of departure.
Alcohol and the consumption of it (except at designated parish events), smoking, and the possession and use of drugs and drug paraphernalia are banned on church property, both inside buildings and outside them.
Any indication of alcohol or drug use and any instance of smoking that are witnessed by a teacher, vestry member, or warden should be reported immediately to the Rector. Anyone found smoking is to be told that their actions are in contravention of church policy and they are to be asked to stop the activity. If there is/are a witness(es) to the incident, the report should be corroborated by the witness(es).
Any behavior by a Sunday school student that appears to be in contravention of this policy should be reported to the Director of Christian Formation and the Rector.
When any member of the church witnesses incidents that indicate that substance abuse has occurred or is occurring, the facts should be reported to one of the Wardens or the Rector.
The rules regarding substance abuse listed above apply in full to mission activity off-site. This includes work time and downtime and the use of premises owned and/or operated by others. These rules supercede local instructions and practices. Our missioners and their supervisors must adhere to these rules throughout the course of the mission.
Any member of the church who transports children of the church to and from church events are expected to be free of the influence of alcohol or drugs and to refrain from smoking during the time students are in their vehicles.
No discussion or promotion of alcohol, drugs or smoking is tolerated on church premises in classrooms, meetings, restrooms or other areas of the church.
COMPUTERS AND MEDIA
Parish computers will be password protected and updated frequently. Access and use to be authorized by the Rector and controlled and monitored. Sexually explicit materials, electronic or otherwise, are prohibited on church grounds at any church-related function. Infractions to be reported to the Rector.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
The Diocese offers training and education for all clergy, employees, vestry members, officers, teachers, pastoral care workers and volunteers annually. All the categories mentioned are to be current (3 years or less) during their time of employment or ministry. Background checks will be also be kept up to date. The Parish Office will maintain records of the dates and training of all the categories mentioned.
All violations of these policies and any incident involving the safety of children, youth, vulnerable populations or any person are to be reported immediately to the Rector and any incidents involving the Rector, to the Senior Warden. Policy also mandates that any violation in a Diocesan environment or by a clergy person in any environment shall be reported immediately to the Bishop’s Office.
Anyone who has reason to suspect that child abuse has taken place, whether at church or away from church, should report it to the appropriate civil authority. In Massachusetts: 800-792-5200. The Safe Church Officers for the Diocese are The Rev. Tanya Wallace and the Rev. Molly Scherm.
This policy adopted by the Vestry of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on October 23, 2012, and amended on March 18, 2013.