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.
COVID-19 Pandemic Guidance
- Visit our section on Pandemic Safety and Strategies to find resources and guidance for your congregation.
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
- Becoming a Safer Congregation: A UU Guide to Effective Safety Policies and Practices is a comprehensive new (June 2018) guide to keeping people of all ages safer from physical and emotional harm. You'll find detailed guidance and checklists for how you can implement effective policies and practices throughout your congregation.
- Behavioral Covenants, Destructive Behavior Policies, and Limited Access Agreements help congregations articulate expectations for community behavior and conflict resolution.
- When congregations have experienced misconduct and other boundary violations in the past, there are often "after pastor" dynamics that persist for years. These situations need special attention, so we recommend you reach out to your regional staff for advice.
- 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.