SAFE CHURCH

Next Safe Church Training: Monday, Nov. 15 @ 7:30 –9 p.m. on Zoom

 

“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’ —Matthew 25:40, Common English Bible

What is Safe Church?

Full Safe Church Policy Document

Read the complete Safe Church policy document, adopted by Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church Session, September 2021 here.

The Safe Church Program is a set of policies and procedures for preventing child abuse in or related to the ministries and programs of Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church. The policies also apply to protecting vulnerable adults.


As a community of Christian faith, Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church (SVPC) is committed to creating and maintaining programs, facilities and a community in which members, friends, clergy, employees, and volunteers can worship, learn and work together in an atmosphere free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, exploitation or intimidation. The leadership and congregation of SVPC supports principles of the Safe Church Program, which include individual responsibility to fulfill the highest standards of personal conduct toward others and to lead and guide the congregation in fulfillment of the standards set by our Christian faith. SVPC strongly opposes and prohibits “sexual exploitation,” “sexual harassment” or any form of exploitation or abuse of others regardless of age, sex or gender identity, sexual orientation or identification, or mental capacity. It is the intention of our congregation to affirmatively nurture good behavior, and to prevent and correct behavior that is contrary to this policy and, as necessary, discipline those persons who violate this policy.


Everyone at SVPC, whether “authorized clergy,” leader, lay staff, volunteer or guardian, has a role to lead those who look to them individually for guidance, to monitor their behavior and redirect them when they do not adhere to Safe Church policies. Our congregation shall nurture good conduct as demonstrated by personal behaviors that are consistent with our Christian values of inclusion, safety, and harm reduction.

From our Pastor, Rev. Hardy H. Kim

Our congregation is committed to providing a safe environment where children, youth, and adults can grow in their relationship with God. To this end, The Safe Church Program was introduced at SVPC in 2009.


The purpose of the Safe Church Program is to create a safe sanctuary where all of God’s children can experience the love of Jesus Christ through relationships with others.  We believe that effective ministry for everyone, but especially children and youth, requires relationships with caring, loving, and mature people who can demonstrate God’s love to them. The Safe Church policies and procedures are intended to keep these relationships and all aspects of ministries with children and youth safe. They are also designed to support the staff and volunteers who work with children and youth, providing appropriate guidelines, boundaries, and support that they need to be effective in their roles. 


Creating a safe environment is not just the responsibility of those directly involved in ministry activities; it is the responsibility of the entire congregation. By fostering awareness of appropriate behaviors in the presence of our children and youth, we will witness and practice Christian love and respect for one another. Over 350 adult and teen volunteers and staff members have been Safe Church trained and certified. This number continues to grow. I’m very proud of the way in which our congregation has embraced and supported this program.


I am thankful that our church is so committed to helping children and youth discover God’s enduring and amazing love. Thank you for your continued support in making our church a safe and nurturing place for all of God’s children. 


Grace and peace,
Hardy

Safe Church Ideology and 2020 Statement on Updates for Inclusion

All policies laid out in this document are intended to decrease harm in our community. We recognize that the church has historically been a vehicle of harm for vulnerable people in regards to sexual assault, sexual abuse, and exclusion of community members based on gender identity, race and color, sexual orientation, and social status. The following policies are meant to check that imbalance of safety. These documents were updated and approved via a Safe Church Task force formed in March 2020 to update and align our documents with our values. 


We believe that: no one shall be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of any program or activity because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, differing abilities, or socio-economic class. To the extent possible, all spaces and settings for programs, activities, and ministry shall be accessible. 


Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church (SVPC) seeks to support all children and youth with vulnerable gender or sexual identities by providing reasonable alternative arrangements regardless of state law to address safety and comfort for those children and youth. Transgender, genderqueer, and/or gender non-binary children and youth who express the need or desire for increased privacy should be provided with reasonable alternative arrangements. Reasonable alternative arrangements may include the use of a private area, or a separate changing schedule, or use of a single stall restroom. Any alternative arrangement should be provided in a way that protects the child or youth’s ability to keep their vulnerable gender or sexuality status confidential. Children and youth should never be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with their gender identity. 

We take any kind of abuse of minors or any form of violence very seriously. If you become aware of anything of this nature at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, report to Child Protective Services (833-722-5437) and to your SVPC supervisor or program director. Any incidents, whether recent or not, can also be communicated by writing to safechurch@sunnyvalepres.com

A Theology of Transparency: Congregational Awareness

We are dedicated to a policy of open communication and education for the benefit of the children, youth, vulnerable adults and guardians we serve. Our community is entitled to know what to expect of our ministries, the staff and volunteers who serve them, and to know the related policies and procedures created to protect the respective ministry constituencies. Constituencies at SVPC include children and youth, parents and guardians, staff members, church officers, volunteers and members and friends of the congregation.

 

As part of our theology of transparency, all updates to the SVPC Safe Church policy shall be posted on the Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church website to be publicly accessible to all.

 

At the beginning of each program year, or in the welcoming process for new participants throughout the year, SVPC program leaders in children and youth ministry will make accessible to guardians:

 

• The expectations for staff and volunteers or adult advisors in working with children and youth ministry, which includes:

• behavioral and theological expectations for adults toward children

• information regarding adults’ personal obligation to report suspected abuse as it exists under the laws of the State of California

 

• A link to current SVPC Safe Church Policies

• Information regarding the means to report violations of policy or suspicions of abuse by writing to safechurch@svpc.us

 

Children and youth shall be periodically reminded of the following subjects in their age-specific programming:

 

• Age-appropriate information about boundaries

• How to protect themselves from abuse

• How to report boundary violations or incidents of abuse

• Basics on Safe Church policies (e.g., two-adult rule, bathroom policies)

 

Parents and guardians shall be invited to receive the same Safe Church training provided to staff and volunteers to be taken at their option. Guardians shall be encouraged to report violations of policy, boundaries or suspected abuse to the Program Director of the respective ministry or program at which an incident has occurred or the Head of Staff. Alternatively, they may report incidents to safechurch@sunnyvalepres.com.

 

Anonymous reporting is permitted in the same manner and with the same precautions as reporting by staff and volunteers. If for any reason, the guardian believes that the primary contacts have failed to respond or have not given credibility to the guardian’s concerns, the latter may communicate directly to the Safe Church Oversight Team Chair via safechurch@sunnyvalepres.com to report those concerns.


Safe Church Training

The general training process involves reviewing two half hour videos titled, “Safeguarding God’s Children” during a 90 minute class. This class is offered on a regular basis at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church.  To register for a class send an e-mail to safechurch@sunnyvalepres.com. 

These videos show victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse discussing what has happened to them. Some people may find the videos unsettling, but the videos do clearly present the issues we face today and their implications for our church.  Please contact Marsha Dyslin if you would like to have a preview of the information before the training.

Safe Church Training Schedule

Check the church calendar for next Safe Church Training dates. 

 

For Child Care, please contact Shannon Birdsong, Child Care Coordinator: childcare@sunnyvalepres.com

 

For all other questions, contact Marsha Dyslin: marsha@sunnyvalepres.com


What do prospective staff and volunteers need to do to be Safe Church Cleared?

Prospective staff and volunteers must complete the following within 30 days:


1.   Attend Safe Church Training (must be done within 60 days)


2.   Fill out the Safe Church Application. (At least three references need to come back endorsing the applicant.)

Volunteer Application 

Elder/Deacon Application 

Staff Application  


3.   Get fingerprinted through the Department of Justice (DOJ) (for those over 18 years.) (Fingerprinting that has been done in another state or for another organization cannot be used.)

• Print and complete the “applicant information” part of the appropriate Department of Justice Form found here and bring it to a Live Scan location where you will get fingerprinted. This costs around $25, send a picture of the receipt to safechurch@sunnyvalepres.com for reimbursement. Proof of fingerprinting will be sent to the church office and confirmed for you by the Safe Church Coordinator. 

• If this process is causing challenges around accessibility or affordability, please contact your program director for support.


You will be notified by the Safe Church Team when all of the above steps have been completed, references have been checked and DOJ clearance has been received.


Volunteers who drive students on church sponsored events are required to provide license and insurance information by completing the SVPC Driver’s Guidelines and Form (below).

In a Crisis? Consider these resources:

• Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor. Free 24/7 support at your fingertips. US and Canada: text 741741.  https://www.crisistextline.org/


• YWCA of Golden Gate Silicon Valley. 24/7 Support Line—1.800.572.2782. yourywca.org


Working with a person in crisis? Try these de-escalation tips.