There are a lot of things I like about having Rev. Kay Ash on staff. Since she started as our full-time Director of Christian Education, we have been blessed by so many of her gifts and graces for ministry.
One important gift that she brings is a wealth of experience related to child safety, particularly as it relates to our requirements and obligations as a United Methodist Church in the North Texas Conference.
I learned a lot about safety when she got here and started asking questions about whether or not the church is in conformity with conference standards. I assumed we were since we ask volunteers with children and youth to get a background check and undergo some online training.
Unfortunately, I discovered quickly that not all our volunteers have met those requirements. I assumed too much.
But I also discovered that this was not all that was needed by the conference. Kay informed me that being fully accredited by Ministry Safe requires a number of other documents and protocols, which I didn’t know.
Unbeknownst to me, under my pastoral leadership, KPUMC has not met the standards that are required by the North Texas Conference. I apologize for my part in not knowing the appropriate actions that needed to be taken, and I have authorized Kay to lead the process whereby we enter into full compliance.
It’s not just a background check and online video anymore; other things that need to be completed for ALL volunteers with children and youth include a Safety Application form, an interview, and a reference check. Compliance renewal must be completed via online training every two years, and background checks must be renewed every two to three years.
All of this is important because the conference looks at our compliance statistics and uses the information when evaluating our ministries. And if, God forbid, there were to be an incident of abuse here on our campus, the conference and our insurers would want to know what we had done to prevent it.
In the end, this isn’t about insurance rates or money. This is about the safety of the children and youth on our campus.
According to Ministry Safe, 1 of 3 girls and 1 of 6 boys will be sexually molested before reaching age 18. Additionally, 90% of sexual abuse victims are abused by someone they know and trust.
This means that a church campus is a particularly vulnerable location for sexual predators. If we are serious about making sure that this kind of abuse does not occur on our church grounds, then we must do everything we can to prevent it. That includes following the direction of Ministry Safe, which can help us provide a comprehensive program to ensure all children and youth have a safe haven, and that all of our churches are a place of sacred trust and security..
Kay and I are in the process of moving our church into compliance. If you are asked to fill out new paperwork or undergo training, please understand that this is not because we are suspicious about your behavior or have done anything wrong! The things we may ask from you have nothing to do with you personally. This is about doing the right thing for our church and our children.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. As always, the goal is that KPUMC remain a safe, warm, loving and caring place for all people. Especially kids.