In June, the Arkansas Annual Conference voted to adopt a new policy to create a protective environment in our churches for children, youth, and vulnerable adults (defined as protected persons) and the volunteers who work with them. With this adoption of this new policy, replacing the current ARUMC Safe Sanctuary Policy, comes the opportunity to use the Safe Gatherings online training and background checks system for all churches within the ARUMC Conference.

This new policy requires all appointed clergy, assigned laity and adult chaperones to district and conference events for children and youth to be Safe Gatherings Certified. While not required, the policy strongly recommends that all local churches use the Safe Gatherings Certification process for all of their lay paid staff and for all volunteers who work with children, youth and vulnerable adults.

In addition, this new policy requires all local churches sending groups of children, youth and adult chaperones to district and conference events for children and youth to have a Safe Gatherings policy.  The minimum standards for a Safe Gatherings policy (including certification specifically through Safe Gatherings) can be found on page 6 of the ARUMC Safe Gatherings Policy.  Again, while not required, it is strongly recommended that all local churches have a safety policy in place to create a safe environment for its children, youth, vulnerable adults and the volunteers who work with these groups.

While this system will be available for all very soon, there are a few groups who will start using it now to meet the implementation deadlines specified in the new policy. Please note the following instructions and deadlines:

  • All ARUMC local churches should have your church administrator or a clergy person contact Safe Gatherings at 888-241-8258 to set up your church’s account. Be prepared to give Safe Gatherings the name(s) of those who will be administrators of the Safe Gatherings account for your church. These persons can be an office administrator, admin assistant, youth ministry worker, children’s ministry worker, etc. Please note that for clergy serving at multiple churches or administrators that work for multiple churches, this dashboard must be set up for each individual church.
    Note: If your church is sending children or youth to ACCYM Refuge Weekend #1, ACCYM Refuge Weekend #2, or Central District Bible Boot Camp in November, the church’s dashboard must be set up and a copy of their current Safety Policy uploaded to the dashboard by October 31, 2022.
  • If you fall into one of the following categories you must be Safe Gatherings Certified by October 31, 2022.
    • A lay person (volunteer or paid) planning to attend ACCYM Refuge Weekend #1, ACCYM Refuge Weekend #2 or Central District Bible Boot Camp as an adult chaperone.
    • A clergy person planning to attend ACCYM Refuge Weekend #1, ACCYM Refuge Weekend #2 or Central District Bible Boot Camp as an adult chaperone.
  • If you fall into one of the following categories you must be Safe Gatherings Certified by December 31, 2022.
    • A clergy person currently appointed to a church or churches
    • A lay supply person currently assigned to a church or churches
    • A certified lay minister currently assigned to a church or churches
  • If you fall into the following category you should be Safe Gatherings Certified by January 1, 2023.
    • A paid church staff person of a local ARUMC church who has not had a background check performed since January 1, 2020. (Paid staff certifications will be at the expense of the local church.)
  • If you fall into the following category you should complete Safe Gatherings Certification after January 1, 2023.
    • A volunteer working with children, youth and/or vulnerable adults (defined as protected persons) in a local ARUMC church for those who has not had a background check performed since January 1, 2020. (Local church volunteer certifications will be at the expense of the ARUMC.) 

Note: While the registration and application process should take 30-45 minutes to complete and the training process should take approximately 2 hours to complete (this can be done in more than one sitting), once you’ve completed all required sections, the verification and approval process can take 7 to 14 days. Therefore, to ensure your certification is complete please begin the process in plenty of time to meet the deadline for the category listed above in which you fall.

Clergy, Lay Supply and Certified Lay Ministers

  • If you fall into the following category you must be Safe Gatherings Certified by October 31, 2022.
    • A clergy person planning to attend ACCYM Refuge Weekend #1, ACCYM Refuge Weekend #2 or Central District Bible Boot Camp as an adult chaperone.
    • A Lay Supply person or Certified Lay Minister planning to attend ACCYM Refuge Weekend #1, ACCYM Refuge Weekend #2 or Central District Bible Boot Camp as an adult chaperone.
  • If you fall into this category you must be Safe Gatherings Certified by December 31, 2022.
    • A clergy person currently appointed to a church or churches.
    • A Lay Supply person or Certified Lay Minister currently assigned to a church or churches.

Note: While the registration and application process should take 30-45 minutes to complete and the training process should take approximately 2 hours to complete (this can be done in more than one sitting), once you’ve completed all required sections, the verification and approval process can take 7 to 14 days. Therefore, to ensure your certification is complete please begin the process in plenty of time to meet the deadline for the category listed above in which you fall.

All ARUMC local churches should have your church administrator or a clergy person contact Safe Gatherings at 888-241-8258 to set up your church’s account. Be prepared to give Safe Gatherings the name(s) of those who will be administrators of the Safe Gatherings account for your church. These persons can be an office administrator, admin assistant, youth ministry worker, children’s ministry worker, etc. Please note that for clergy serving at multiple churches or administrators that work for multiple churches, this dashboard must be set up for each individual church.

Note: If your church is sending children or youth to ACCYM Refuge Weekend #1, ACCYM Refuge Weekend #2, or Central District Bible Boot Camp in November, the church’s dashboard must be set up and a copy of their current Safety Policy uploaded to the dashboard by October 31, 2022.

Laity

  • If you fall into one of the following categories you must be Safe Gatherings Certified by October 31, 2022.
    • A lay person (volunteer or paid) planning to attend ACCYM Refuge Weekend #1, ACCYM Refuge Weekend #2 or Central District Bible Boot Camp as an adult chaperone.
  • If you fall into the following category you should be Safe Gatherings Certified by January 1, 2023.
    • A paid church staff person of a local ARUMC church who has not had a background check performed since January 1, 2020. (Paid staff certifications will be at the expense of the local church.)
  • If you fall into the following category you should complete Safe Gatherings Certification after January 1, 2023.
    • A volunteer working with children, youth and/or vulnerable adults (defined as protected persons) in a local ARUMC church who has not had a background check performed since January 1, 2020. (Local church volunteer certifications will be at the expense of the ARUMC.)

Note: While the registration and application process should take 30-45 minutes to complete and the training process should take approximately 2 hours to complete (this can be done in more than one sitting), once you’ve completed all required sections, the verification and approval process can take 7 to 14 days. Therefore, to ensure your certification is complete please begin the process in plenty of time to meet the deadline for the category listed above in which you fall.

All ARUMC local churches should have your church administrator or a clergy person contact Safe Gatherings at 888-241-8258 to set up your church’s account. Be prepared to give Safe Gatherings the name(s) of those who will be administrators of the Safe Gatherings account for your church. These persons can be an office administrator, admin assistant, youth ministry worker, children’s ministry worker, etc. Please note that for clergy serving at multiple churches or administrators that work for multiple churches, this dashboard must be set up for each individual church.

Note: If your church is sending children or youth to ACCYM Refuge Weekend #1, ACCYM Refuge Weekend #2, or Central District Bible Boot Camp in November, the church’s dashboard must be set up and a copy of their current Safety Policy uploaded to the dashboard by October 31, 2022.

One part of the Safe Gathering Certification requires the notarization of an authorization form for the Arkansas Department of Human Services Child Maltreatment Registry check. If your local church, bank or public library doesn’t have a notary available, you can use the map below to find a notary at a nearby United Methodist church.

Questions?

For set up, troubleshooting and questions about the Safe Gatherings site contact Safe Gatherings directly at 888-241-8258 or contact@safegatherings.com.

For questions about safety policies and implementation contact Michelle Moore at 501-324-8048 or michelle.moore@arumc.org.