What is Samaritan SafeChurch?
A SafeChurch sees itself as a sanctuary, where one finds protection, support, guidance and the presence of God. Our “SafeChurch Project: Protection of Children and Youth from Sexual Abuse” 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.
SafeChurch 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. We are part of a national cohort working to end child sexual abuse in partnership with the Just Beginning Collaborative. JBC grew out of a groundbreaking multi-year partnership between the NoVo Foundation and the Ms. Foundation for Women that helped to establish a national network of leaders and organizations working to end child sexual abuse. Building on this foundation, the Just Beginnings Collaborative launched in 2015 as an independent project designed to support the field in achieving a new level of visibility and impact.
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 South- central Pennsylvania and beyond – and then, join us!
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Download our SafeChurch brochure
Join our next Cluster
Bring SafeChurch to your Community or Judicatory
Bring SafeChurch to your Seminary
Donate! Help us grow the movement to end Child Sexual Abuse!
Our local work in South Central PA
Our Samaritan Center is based in Lancaster County, PA. It is one of more than 70 accredited Samaritan Institute affiliated organizations throughout the U.S. providing faith-integrated education, consultation and counseling. Samaritan SafeChurch was designed and developed at the Lancaster Center. At the conclusion of our sixth local SafeChurch Cluster in May 2016, we had impacted approximately 10,700 adults and 7,100 children in 47 congregations in our community. In addition, we have trained facilitators in several regional church associations that are also running SafeChurch Clusters in our local area. 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. As our program grows, we add additional local Clusters which meet over an 11 month period, forming a rich ecumenical learning environment in which teams from each congregation meet together, learning how to prevent child sexual abuse and respond quickly when they 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-York- Harrisburg PA churches that have completed, or are in the process of completing, the SafeChurch program on preventing child sexual abuse.
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.
To learn about our national pilot program, click here.