Diocese of California says "yes" to safe church practices

Posted on September 10, 2008

Safe churches are ones where God’s unambiguous “yes” is manifested in all aspects of congregational life.  Yes—we will have rich and affectionate relationships with children and youth. Yes—we will practice respect and justice in our relationships with fellow ministers of all ages, orders, genders and sexual orientations. Yes—we will honor the dignity of all human beings. Yes—we are called to right relationships, and—yes—our diocesan community will support our efforts to become churches which are safe places for all God’s people.

This month marks the release of Called to Right Relationship , a set of policies, standards and resources designed to ensure that our congregations are safe. The document and its ancillary resources—training and background checking services conveniently available online —are the Diocese of California’s local response to Resolution B008 of the 2003 General Convention, which called each Episcopal diocese to adopt policies for the protection of children and youth from abuse.


For clergy and ministry professionals, Called to Right Relationship (C2RR) includes standards of conduct and transparent procedures for reporting misconduct; for those who work with children, youth, and dependant adults, there are specific behavioral standards and forms for measuring and documenting compliance with best practices in safe ministry. The policy and procedures document can be downloaded in its entirety, and its constituent-specific parts at diocal.org/safechurch.

In addition, the Diocese of California has contracted with Shield the Vulnerable, a national provider of training for safe ministry with children and youth, to custom-design a 1 ½ hour online course which satisfies both the training and background-checking requirements of Called to Right Relationship. All clergy, lay professionals, congregational leaders and volunteers whose ministries include contact with children and youth should plan to take this course for the nominal fee of $5 per person. The fee for the integrated criminal background checking service, normally about $25, will be waived through the end of 2008.

The online course and background-checking service can be accessed by going to shieldthevulnerable.org, clicking the "1st Time Diocese Signup" tab, and selecting "Episcopal Diocese of California" from the list. Upon completion of the course, completion certificates will be available for download and congregations can record them for compliance with their internal safe-church self-audit procedures (also available as part of the C2RR document). For questions about the policy, procedures, and training and background checking services, please contact Julia McCray-Goldsmith (juliam@diocal.org, 415.869.7826), or the Rev. Bertie Pearson (bertiep@diocal.org, 415.869.7817).

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are all “yes” in Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:20