Has your church joined the emerging movement to end child sexual abuse? Do you believe people of faith have a contribution to make to keeping all children safe from sexual harm? Learn how congregations are making a difference in Lancaster County and beyond – and then, join us!
A Safe Church sees itself as a sanctuary, where one finds protection, support, guidance and the presence of God. Our “Safe Church Project: Protection of Children and Youth from Sexual Abuse” (click here for the brochure and here for the insert) program helps you to create policies and guidelines developed in alignment with your mission and theological understanding to create a sanctuary where all can gather in an atmosphere of trust and safety.
Safe Church is Samaritan’s unique process of working with groups or “Clusters” of congregations from various traditions to help shift congregational culture to proactive engagement of all adults to protect children from sexual harm – not only at church, but in the communities where we live, work, play and go to school. A Ms. Foundation grant gave us the opportunity to develop this model in 2011. When our third local Safe Church Cluster completes work in May 2014, we will have impacted approximately 4,850 adults and 3,500 children in 25 congregations! Church by church, we are empowering and equipping adults to keep children safe from sexual abuse, which currently affects 25% of girls and 20% of boys before they are 18 years old.
Each Cluster begins to meet in June and finishes in May, forming a rich ecumenical learning environment in which teams from each congregation meet together six times to learn how to prevent child sexual abuse and respond quickly when we suspect it may be happening. Churches participating receive many other benefits, including a customized new or improved policy with best practices, education for congregants, worship resources, a retreat for adult survivors, mandated reporting training for staff and volunteers, and healthy boundary curriculums for children and teens.
Click here to view the churches that have completed, or are in the process of completing, the 11 month Safe Church program on preventing child sexual abuse. A new Cluster of congregations begins the program each June and completes it the following May.
New! Safe Church Cluster in Lebanon starts June 2014
Our fourth local “Cluster” will begin in June 2014 and meet at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown to give the opportunity for congregations in Lebanon county, as well as northern Lancaster county, to more easily participate. Applications are due by April 30, 2014. Click here for more information on the 2014 project scope; here for the enrollment form and here for the project schedule. Click here for a summary of the project.
If you have any questions, please contact Linda Crockett, Director of Education & Consultation, at 717-560-9991 or email Linda. Submission of an application does not guarantee a spot.
We also provide education, training and consultation to non-church organizations on prevention and response.
A partial list of workshops and topics:
- Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence in the Congregation
- Recognizing, Responding, and Reporting Child Abuse in the Congregation
- Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Empowering Adults and Children through Education
- Pastoral Care of Victims and Offenders
- Integrating a Convicted Sexual Offender into the Congregation: Best Practices
- Broken Boundaries: Congregations Healing in the Aftermath of Sexual Abuse or Other Trauma
Safe Church Training DVD:
Protecting Children & Youth from Sexual Abuse
This two hour video provides a critical component of becoming a Safe Church: training for volunteers and staff working with children and teens. Best practices require that everyone be provided with comprehensive training before beginning to work with children and teens in the church, as well as at least bi-annual refreshers. Click here for a video clip from the DVD and purchasing information.
Safe Church National Pilot Program:
April 2013 – April 2015
Funded by the Ms. Foundation for Women and developed by the Samaritan Counseling Center Samaritan Counseling Center in Lancaster, Safe Church is part of a groundbreaking effort to end child sexual abuse across the United States by building an inclusive, strategic and sustainable movement encompassing diverse secular and faith-based organizations. Learn how we are working with the Ms. Foundation and other organizations across the county to develop a movement for ending child sexual abuse! Click here for more information.
In addition to deepening our work in Lancaster and contiguous counties, our “big” vision is to have multiple clusters of “safe churches” in relationship with local organizations working to end CSA within geographically defined communities across the country to ignite a faith-based movement within the larger stream beginning to coalesce around this issue.
The 2 year national pilot program is a 20 hour, 3-day training for ordained and lay leaders from a broad spectrum of theological traditions to equip them to facilitate a Safe Church process in their own congregations, or in a “Cluster” of several churches working together.
The pilot is intended to be a learning experience for both participants and Samaritan’s designers of Safe Church to determine how the model developed in Pennsylvania can be adopted for utilization in other geographic locations.
To align faith communities with other organizations engaging in various activities to end child sexual abuse, pilots are hosted by a sponsoring organization committed to ending child sexual abuse. Our pilot partners for the first year are:
CONNECT (NY) http://www.connectnyc.org/
The Collins Center, Harrisonburg, VA http://www.thecollinscenter.org
Participants completing this 3 day pilot will be able to:
- Facilitate a one-year Safe Church process in a congregation or a group of congregations
- Utilize an interactive policy template to develop a comprehensive child & youth protection policy, or to revise an existing policy with best practices, by using the policy template and other material provided in the training.
- Write a theological framework grounded in their own tradition articulating why protecting children from sexual abuse is a core part of their mission and identity.
- Discuss the prevalence and impacts of child sexual abuse, including the primary spiritual wounds common in victims and the influence on one’s understanding of God
- Differentiate the 5 phases of the “grooming” process offenders use to engage children
- Discuss how to use the power of story to effect social change in Christian communities by drawing on Biblical themes and the prophetic tradition
- Explain how congregations can safely incorporate known sexual offenders
- Describe how the story of the rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13) can be used to empower adult survivors to find their voices and challenge churches to hear them