Safe Sanctuaries FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Safe Sanctuaries program help to protect our children and vulnerable adults?
Safe Sanctuaries ensures that all members of our congregation–most specifically those who have regular and direct contact with children, youth and vulnerable adults–are aware of specific procedures and best practices to ensure the safety of and minimize the potential for abuse or exploitation of the most vulnerable in our midst. Intentional screening of employees and volunteers working with the most vulnerable reduces the possibility of those seeking to prey upon the vulnerable from holding positions of responsibility over them. Furthermore, making clear the responsibility to report, and the process for reporting any concerns stemming from behavior or witnessed incidents, increases the likelihood that those in our midst will be protected.

What should I do if I suspect there’s misconduct involving children or vulnerable adults?
If you have observed signs of abuse, unusual behaviors, witness an incident of abuse or exploitation, or receive a report of such by a third party, report that incident or suspected abuse immediately to the appropriate ministry supervisor personally or by phone. If you cannot reach the ministry supervisor, or it involves the ministry supervisor, make the report to the Pastor. For matters involving clergy, the report should be made to the District Superintendent. 

Does everyone who works with children and vulnerable adults have to go through training and certification?
Every employee and volunteer who has regular and direct contact with children, youth, or vulnerable adults must undergo a screening process and Safe Sanctuaries training to be approved for working in ministries involving those persons.

Why do I have to go through training and certification if I have been volunteering in the church for years?
The Upper NY Annual Conference Safe Sanctuaries Minimum Standards, as interpreted by the UNYAC Safe Sanctuaries Team, require documentation of a full screening process and completion of training for all employees and volunteers who have regular and direct contact with children, youth, or vulnerable adults. Although that requirement was not formally codified until 2011, no one, including long time employees or volunteers, was grandfathered to continue serving in those roles without completing the screening process and training now found in the Lansing United Safe Sanctuary Policy.

What is required to be Safe Sanctuaries certified?
Our Pastor, Staff, and all volunteers who have regular and direct contact with children, youth or vulnerable adults, must undergo a screening process and Safe Sanctuaries training to be approved for working in ministries involving those persons. The screening process includes reference checks, personal interview, and background check conducted through a third-party on-line vendor. The training process consists of a three-hour course.

Who should I go to with questions about Safe Sanctuaries?
Questions about Safe Sanctuaries can be addressed to our:

  • Pastor
  • Staff or Ministry Supervisors of programs involving children, youth, or vulnerable adults
  • Members of the Safe Sanctuaries Team, in person, or via email at

Who designed the Safe Sanctuaries policies and trainings used by our church?
Each Annual Conference within the United Methodist Church oversees Safe Sanctuaries practices of the Districts and local churches within its Conference. Lansing United falls within the Upper NY Annual Conference (UNYAC), which has published a Safe Sanctuaries Resolution and Minimum Standards. Lansing United has published its Safe Sanctuaries Policy in accordance with those requirements. The UNYAC Safe Sanctuaries Team designed a conference training program to ensure staff and volunteers within the conference are familiar with the basic principles, procedures and best practices of Safe Sanctuaries policies that minimize the risk of abuse for children, youth, or vulnerable adults within our midst.

Who is on the Safe Sanctuaries Team?
The Lansing United Safe Sanctuaries Team is composed of diverse adult members nominated by Lansing United’s Nominating Committee and elected by Charge Conference, including liaisons from Lansing United’s education ministries, Trustees, and Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) as required by Conference and Lansing United policies. 

Do Safe Sanctuaries policies apply to outside groups using the church?
Outside organizations who request to use Lansing United facilities for meetings or other events must agree, in writing, to comply with specified Lansing United Safe Sanctuaries Policies, as outlined on the Trustees’ Building Use Form. 

Who is a vulnerable adult?
Vulnerable adults are defined under the Lansing United Safe Sanctuaries Policy as a person aged 18 or over, who due to age, illness, or a mental or physical condition, is less able to take care of himself/herself, or less able to protect himself/herself against harm or exploitation, including, but not limited to, physical and sexual abuse, neglect by self or other financial or material exploitation, emotional or psychological mistreatment.

How can I get involved in helping strengthen the Lansing United Safe Sanctuaries program?
The most direct way to strengthen Safe Sanctuaries at Lansing United is to volunteer to serve on the Safe Sanctuaries Team, which is always glad to welcome new members. As a Team member, you can help review/revise policies, develop awareness materials for the congregation, and assess compliance and processes to enhance compliance, to name just a few ways to help.

You can also become a certified Safe Sanctuaries Conference Trainer to provide initial conference training for employees and new volunteers. This involves taking a Conference-sponsored “Train the Trainers” course.

You may also volunteer to participate on the Conference Safe Sanctuaries Team to set conference policies and help Districts and local congregations implement best practices for Safe Sanctuaries.

If you would like more information or want to get involved in any of these ways, please see the Pastor or contact the Lansing United Safe Sanctuaries Team.