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. Click here to learn more about Safe Church terms and definitions!
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Our local work in Lancaster/Lebanon PA:
Our Samaritan Center is based in Lancaster County, PA. It is one of more than 90 accredited Samaritan Institute affiliated organizations throughout the U.S. providing faith-integrated education, consultation and counseling. Samaritan Safe Church was designed and developed at the Lancaster Center. At the conclusion of our third local Safe Church Cluster in May 2014, we have impacted approximately 4,850 adults and 3,500 children in 25 congregations in our community. 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. Our fourth Safe Church Cluster expands our local base to Lebanon County, PA and begins in June 2014. As our program grows, we will add additional local “clusters”. 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 Lancaster-Lebanon PA 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.
Our national work:
Our vision is to have multiple Clusters of Safe Churches in communities throughout the United States joining the emerging social movement to end child sexual abuse; and to have the program offered at seminaries demonstrating ethical commitment to insuring that religious leaders are equipped to prevent, and respond, to child sexual abuse in their congregations.