SafeR Church Policy
SafeR Church Abuse Prevention and Response Policy
The following SafeR Church Policy was approved by Parish Council on 12 June 2014 and took effect immediately.
WHEREAS, “SafeR Church” is a Diocesan term meant to emphasize that an absolute safe environment is not a reasonable expectation, WE, the Parish, hereby adopt this SafeR Church Policy to create a safer church for everyone by taking active measures to prevent and respond to the threat of all forms of abuse; sexual, physical, spiritual, psychological, and emotional, including bullying, harassment and interpersonal disputes, committed by anyone involved in this Parish or committed against anyone involved in this Parish. This Policy will apply to every relevant aspect of this Parish’s life, including its Intangibles, Governance, and Ministries. Every individual involved with this Parish is subject to this policy. Preamble This Parish will be guided in the matter of prevention and response to abuse, as in all matters, by the teachings of Jesus Christ. This Parish, as a part of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and PEI, is obligated to adhere to Diocesan Canons, policies, guidelines and directives relevant to abuse prevention and response. This Parish recognizes that the threat of abuse is real and present and endangers the well being of all involved with the Parish and the Parish itself. This Parish accepts that it has moral, ethical and legal obligations to take active deliberate action to prevent and respond to the risks of abuse. This Parish seeks to create, restore, build, nourish and sustain an atmosphere and environment as a community of trust and a trustworthy community; a SafeR Church. This Parish, located in Nova Scotia, will abide by and adhere to federal and provincial laws relative to abuse prevention and response. Definitions In this policy, the following words are defined as follows:
Abuse: The mistreatment of a person; included here are sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual or psychological abuse, as well as harassment and bullying.
Audit: Monitor, evaluate and test the SafeR Church Plan.
Child/Youth: As per the Nova Scotia Children and Family Services Act, a child is a person under 16 years of age. Youth is not defined. A legal adult is 19 years and older (Nova Scotia Age of Majority Act).
Civil Laws: Any federal, provincial or municipal law, regulation or statute that is outside of Canon Law or Diocesan Policy. Diocese: The Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Dispute Resolution Guidelines: As set out and defined in Appendix A, appended to and forming part of this Safer Church Policy. Governance: The formal and informal structures and processes through which this Parish is controlled, organized, structured, managed and administered.
Intangibles: Realities that cannot be touched or measured but that are essential elements of the Parish, for example, its culture, atmosphere and environment.
Ministries: The programs, services and activities of this Parish, both those it controls and directs, and the work of Parish Officers and Appointees done on behalf of the Parish in programs external to it. Parish: The Parish Corporation of St James which includes St James Church, Mahone Bay, and Christ Church, Maitland. Personnel: A generic, collective term that refers to anyone who does work or performs services on behalf of and at the request of the Parish. The word is to be understood broadly and may include laypersons, ordained clergy, employees, volunteers, students and interns. It includes people working on a part time, full time, temporary, permanent, seasonal, casual, paid or unpaid basis and may include contractors, depending on the situation.
The Plan Priority: The well being of individuals The Parish will NEVER compromise its obligation to promote and protect the well being of individuals, in particular children, youth, seniors, and other vulnerable people by putting the interests of any individual or its own interests ahead of those of an individual who has made an allegation or disclosure of abuse or who, it is suspected, has been abused. If an individual who has been accused or convicted of an abuse related offence wishes to participate in the life of the Parish, the Parish will carefully consider what that participation might and should include or exclude, seeking to extend the love of Christ and opportunities for reconciliation and restoration to that individual, BUT without undermining or compromising the Parish’s primary obligation to take active measures to protect people who are vulnerable. Compliance with Civil Laws The Parish will abide by all applicable and relevant municipal, provincial and federal laws and regulations, including, but not limited to the reporting requirements and other obligations set out in provincial child welfare legislation with respect to the abuse of children or youth and to any relevant provisions of applicable adult protection statutes or other laws. Compliance with Diocesan Requirements/Directives The Parish will adhere to requirements established by the Diocese in matters related to abuse prevention and response. Co-operation with Civil Authorities The Parish will co operate with child welfare/protection agencies and other civil authorities in any investigation of allegations, reports, disclosures or suspicions of abuse in the Parish. Internal Investigations The Parish and its personnel will NEVER initiate or undertake an internal investigation of an allegation, suspicion, report or disclosure of abuse, for its own purposes, unless and until the civil authorities, including child welfare/protection agencies and the police, have made a final disposition in the matter. The Parish will, however, participate as needed in accordance with the Dispute Resolution Guidelines appended hereto as Appendix A.
Development of the SafeR Church Plan The Parish will create, implement and update a SafeR Church Plan. The Parish will establish a SafeR Church Audit Committee to insure the SafeR Church Plan is carried out. It will consist of a minimum of three members, one of which will be a Warden. The plan will identify specific response and prevention measures in relation to its ministries, governance and intangibles. The Parish will then establish and enforce these measures. It will also, regularly audit these measures to make sure they are prudent, reasonable and effective, and adjust the measures as circumstances warrant. Such measures shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) All ministry leaders responsible for the handling of money shall be required to provide the Parish Office with a valid Police Records Check every two years. Copies of any such checks already completed, regardless of the purpose for which they were undertaken, shall be considered valid if completed less than two years before appointment as a leader.
(1) (b) All ministry leaders responsible for youth shall be required to provide the Parish Office with a valid Police Records Check and Vulnerable Sector Check, every two years. Copies of any such checks already completed, regardless of the purpose for which they were undertaken, shall be considered valid if completed less than two years before appointment as a youth leader.
(1) (c) Policy and Procedure manuals shall be prepared, formally adopted, and regularly updated as needed, and shall be issued to parents or guardians of all youth programs, including Sunday School, the Church Girls League (CGL) and the Church Boys League (CBL). (1) The Parish will provide on a periodic and ongoing basis, abuse response, prevention and awareness information, education and/or training opportunities as appropriate for members of the Parish, its governance bodies and those involved in providing or participating in Parish programs, services and/or activities. The Parish will review this plan annually. If any allegation, disclosure, report or suspicion of abuse in the Parish occurs, the relevant portions of the plan will be reviewed sooner. If any deficiencies are identified, they will be corrected as quickly as is reasonably possible.
This policy, approved by the Parish Council on June 12, 2014, and amended on May 12, 2020, becomes effective immediately.
Interim Rector Rev. Janet Hatt
Warden, Christ Church Stuart Dauphinee
Warden, Christ Church Doreen Wheeler
Warden, St James Church Bradley Tremere
Warden, St. James Church Jennifer Sandison
Warden, St. James Church Thomas Spinney
[This document was originally signed by the then current Rector and Wardens during the worship services on July 13, 2014.] (1) Approved as amended April 11th, 2021.