The church must be a safe place for vulnerable people. To ensure that, the canons of the national church and Diocese of Oregon mandate background checks and the Episcopal Church’ Safe Church training for all who work with vulnerable persons or who oversee those who do. This includes all clergy, all who regularly work with children, including teachers, music and choir directors, and any volunteer who helps in classes or in the nursery. It also includes any who might engage in pastoral care including Stephen Ministers, and Eucharistic Ministers. It also includes all Vestry members, as they have oversight over the ministries of the congregation. The training has several purposes. It helps us to design oversight systems that keep our people safe. It educates us about what behaviors to be alert for and what to do when we see them. It keeps us from inadvertently engaging in well meant actions that may be unwelcome by the recipient. Finally, conscientiously doing all that we can to make the church safe gives us some legal protection should the unthinkable happen despite our best efforts.
Through the last two decades the Episcopal Church’s Safe Church training has changed many times in scope and in presentation. In order to stay up to date and to keep the material fresh in our minds, those who are required to have the training must retrain every three years. Its newest presentation, much improved over earlier versions, is now available in Oregon only as a series of 10 online video presentations. Most who are required to receive the training should have already received a link to the training, although some have not yet been contacted. Many who have received the link have not yet completed or even begun the training. To help the process we will be hosting a Safe Church Training Day at Resurrection on Saturday May 6 beginning at 10:00 am.
While each person must complete the training individually, we hope to provide internet access for those without it in their homes, some camaraderie in the experience, and some technical assistance for any who have had difficulty receiving the link, registering for the training, or watching the videos and completing the training. Here are a few points to remember:
- Even if you are required to have the training, you may complete it on your own and you are not required to attend on May 6.
- You must bring your own device (Laptop, tablet, or smart phone). Each person must individually register on the site and so you cannot have your training certified if you just watch over someone else’s shoulder.
- We strongly recommend bringing headphones. There will be videos playing on many devices in the same space and without headphones it will be very difficult to hear your own device.
- You may come on May 6th for whatever length of time works best for you. You can just learn how to get started and then finish later or your own or stay through the whole course.
- If this training is mandatory for you, you must complete it by May 31 or you will be asked to step back from your ministry until you have finished the training.
While there are some who must do the Safe Church training, any who would like to may. I especially recommend it for any who are caring for children, the elderly, or other vulnerable persons.
If you are not sure whether you are required to have the training, you can contact me (Fr. B) with your questions. If you have taken the Safe Church training, but are unsure whether your three years have elapsed, or if you need the link or have technical questions please contact the church office.
Thank you for your help in making Resurrection a safe church for everyone.