"Safe Sanctuary Sunday" Helps Church Focus on Being Safe Haven for Children

August 29, 2012

On Sunday, July 22, Winchester Trinity UMC (Lexington District) celebrated our first “Safe Sanctuary Sunday.” Like many churches we were frustrated with the minimal attendance at our various Safe Sanctuary trainings. Before July 22, we had only 15 people from our church with background checks and Safe Sanctuary training. In response to this, the worship team decided to dedicate an entire Sunday morning to making our congregation aware of the Safe Sanctuary Policy, as well as making the training available to the entire congregation after the worship service.

After weeks of announcing our “Safe Sanctuary Sunday,” we had 81 people in attendance, which is slightly higher than our average attendance of 76. During the worship service, we integrated different aspects of the Safe Sanctuary Preamble and Purpose in the liturgy. We also found some liturgy online that we were able to adapt for our purposes.

My favorite aspect of the worship service was during the Children’s Moment. After briefly talking with the children about the church being a safe place, we had them stand as the congregation responded with the promise to “…surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness…” as it is found in The Baptismal Covenant II on page 40 of the United Methodist Hymnal.

After the morning worship service, we had a church-wide potluck in the Fellowship Hall, where we finished the training and handed out the various release forms and background checks. Of the 81 people present in worship, about 44 people stayed for the potluck, and of those 44 people, 27 turned in the various forms and are now Safe Sanctuary trained! We are extremely excited that we almost doubled our volunteer base, but we are even more excited that the people of Trinity UMC are aware of the importance of Safe Sanctuaries and its purpose in the local church.

We plan to make this an annual day of celebrating our commitment to be a safe haven for the children, youth, and vulnerable adults God has placed in our care.

This is the liturgy Winchester Trinity used for the service. If you have questions about the worship service and training, you may contact Rev. Seel at seelrev@gmail.com.