Update on Safe Church (Formally Safeguarding) in The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma
The Episcopal Church has always strived to be a safe place for all to gather, to learn, and to worship. To that end, for decades we have had programs in place to set standards and provide education for protecting the vulnerable among us. As with all things, these programs must be reviewed and improved periodically. General Convention in 2015 called for this review, the result of which was a set of Model Policies and associated training to be enacted church wide. Diocesan Council approved the new Safe Church policies for the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma in November of 2022.
These new policies replace outdated policies and training from the early 2000's. These newer policies call for a higher level of accountability in our ministries, parishes, and in the diocese. With them, we will be protecting a greater range of people including both children and adults to keep those who are most vulnerable safe from harm.
Guarding them is work and requires attention to detail. An increase in accountability, by necessity brings additional responsibility to maintain accurate and timely records as well as to implement and follow the policies and procedures. We should remember that we are not being penalized for what has been done in the past, we simply seek improvement.
While implementation may at first feel complicated and onerous, by our Baptismal Covenant we are called to strive for justice and peace. In this case that means to strive to improve our protection of the vulnerable from “good” to better – even to best practices.
Please scroll down and you will find resources and more information for your congregation related to the on-going Safe Church transition and how to implement these in your congregation if you have not already begun this process. This is a big change for our Diocese in terms of how we do Safe Church protection and this program requires much more management than before. We have tried as best as possible to give you step by step information. Please bear in mind, no one is alone in this, support can be found at Diocesan Office as we navigate these new and updated policies. We have three staff members who assist with different aspects of Safe Church:
Resources and Information Proposed Policies:
Link for Policies for Children and Youth - Oklahoma
Link for Policies for Vulnerable Adults - Oklahoma
Link for Appendix A (Appendix A is the Training and Screening information found in both Proposed Model Policies) *Appendix A updated as of June 2022 (before General Convention). It will be modified with new information post the addition of new Sexual Harassment trainings.
Checklist for Safe Church
Information on Safe Church Trainings
Frequently Asked Questions
Information on Background Checks
Process Checklist for Background Checks
Guidelines for Responding to Concerns in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma for Misconduct or Inappropriate Behavior
Best Practices for When a Minor Discloses Abuse or Neglect
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