Becoming a Safer Congregation

A UU Guide to Effective Safety Policies and Practices

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 issues pertaining to the safety of our people (staff, volunteers, leaders, congregants, guests, children, youth, vulnerable adults, etc), places (congregational buildings, grounds, campus, etc), and things (finances, data, property, etc).

The hardest part of starting or refocusing on safe congregations work can be getting over the idea that everything must be done at once. There is not one “right” place to start, and every congregation can make its own decision about where to focus its attention given their particular concerns, history, and legal requirements (which vary from state to state). The sample policies, checklists, and suggestions contained here will help you take steps towards creating a safer congregation that lives our faith and values.

The second hardest part is thinking your congregation is "done." Keeping up to date on your safer congregation policies and procedures means that your policies and procedures need to be reviewed and scheduled for updating on a regular basis. One of our checklists addresses this particular issue.

The third hardest part is remembering that your congregation is a community made of up a variety of people—that what might feel like “the” safe response, policy, or protocol to some members, won’t feel the same to others. Helping the congregation members and friends remember the diversity of responses to safety, and helping them understand that sometimes creating a Beloved Community means that not everyone can behave without restraints and considerations for others, will be an unacknowledged task in the process of addressing safe congregations issues.

Table of Contents

  1. Getting Started
  2. Safety as an Embodiment of Covenant: Destructive Behavior
  3. Building Security in Congregations
  4. Active Shooter and Lockdown Situations
  5. Financial Safety
  6. Religious Education and Children
  7. Safety in Youth Ministry
  8. Social Media and Safer Communications

Becoming a Safer Congregation: a Guide to Effective Safety Policies and Practices was created in 2018. It has been substantially reviewed and revised in the intervening years. Please bring questions and concerns for us to address going forward to the Safe Congregations Team,

This guide replaces and/or updates information found originally in"Balancing Acts".

Fostering Safer Congregations Online Training

This training provides resources for religious educators, ministers and other congregational leaders to prevent and address violence, abuse, harassment, inappropriate behavior, and other threats to safety.

Take the Training