Our congregations strive to be safe and welcoming places to all. It is impossible to make a congregation 100% safe; however, there are steps that you can take to make your congregation safer while still creating a supportive space for learning, growth, and challenge as well as actively working for the inclusion and safety of all people.
This section contains resources for congregations to prevent and address violence, abuse, harassment, inappropriate behavior, and other threats to safety. The sample policies and suggestions contained here will help you take steps towards creating a safer congregation that lives our faith and values.
Professional Misconduct Complaints
- Our ministers, credentialed religious educators, and credentialed music leaders are held to high standards for appropriate behavior. Our Office of Ethics and Safety handles Complaints of Professional Misconduct for these professionals who serve our faith. The UUA's system for responding to complaints of professional misconduct is grounded in principles of restorative justice and reconciliation.
Promoting Appropriate Behavior
- Behavioral Covenants and Disruptive Behavior Policies help congregations articulate expectations for community behavior and conflict resolution.
- Creating Sexually Healthy Congregations: Developed in partnership with the Religious Institute, these resources help congregations uphold appropriate sexual boundaries.
- The Safe Congregations Handbook: a book for Unitarian Universalist congregations. It offers guidelines, principles, policies, tools and workshops to help congregations create an environment that is safer and more secure for both children and adults.
- Balancing Acts: Keeping Children Safe in Congregations offers information, policies, and procedural suggestions to create a congregation where children and youth will be safe from sexual abuse, including tools for responding to known sex offenders.
- The UUA Youth Safety pages offer fourteen best practices to keep youth (ages 14-18) safe, with appropriate sexual and emotional boundaries.
- The UUA's Responsible Staffing Guidelines for hiring/calling professional religious leaders, staff and volunteers help congregations do the necessary background checks and references to keep vulnerable people safer.
Responding to Threats and Incidents
- Our Building Security page guides congregations to helpful resources for addressing violent intruders, natural disasters, and more.
- Church Mutual Insurance Company's website offers an array of safety resources aimed at the unique settings and communities of religious organizations; including resources on fire prevention, workplace safety, and abuse prevention.
- Mandatory Reporting Guidelines: State by State Guide helps our religious professionals know when and how to report suspected abuse of children and elders to authorities.
- The volunteer-run Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry (UUTRM) provides culturally sensitive spiritual care to survivors of mass disasters and other significant trauma.