One of the most important assets of our church is our members. ChristCare Small Groups reminds us of the possibility of experiencing Christ's love by coming together in a small, safe, authentic environment to care for one another as we partner to serve God. Our Safe Church Policy helps us to be in that safe environment.

In 2006, by unanimous Church Council vote, The First Congregational Church adopted a Safe Church Policy to preclude acts of abuse on its premises. Some may wonder why such a policy is necessary in a church environment, where trust and fellowship abide - isn't church the one place where we can be free from the anxieties and tragedies of this world? Unfortunately, the answer is as near as a daily newspaper or television newscast: it is precisely because of their trusting and loving natures that churches sometimes become vulnerable to persons who would do harm. As a progressive church with a dynamic and growing educational program, First Congregational UCC believes it is possible to be open, trusting and loving while still taking affirmative steps to account for the realities of our broken world. The following is a summary of our Safe Church Policy. Copies of the entire policy are available upon request from the church office by emailing office@firstcongregational.com.

All volunteers and employees who regularly work with children and youth will receive orientation regarding safe church policies and procedures (this training is also available to any member of the church who is interested). All persons who wish to work with children and youth in The First Congregational Church programs will submit an application and disclosure form, in which the applicant affirms that he/she has never been convicted of a crime involving sexual or physical abuse. Applicants may be personally interviewed to assess the suitability of their character and qualifications for the position they seek. All prospective employees, church school teachers, nursery attendants may undergo a background check, including inquiries of references and a criminal history verification. The church may conduct a registered sex offender reviewof each volunteer by searching their name on the Department of Justice website. Persons who volunteer to work with minors will have been regularly and frequently associated with The First Congregational Church for at least six months. In situations where participants are not readily visible to each other, there will be no fewer than two adults present with children.

The Personnel Committee holds the responsibility of managing our Safe Church Program. We believe that prevention is the best policy through education and screening. This policy deals not only with child sex abuse but peer abuse, spouse abuse, elder abuse, and ministerial abuse.