LETTER TO LOCAL CHURCHES
I encourage all Local Churches of the United Church of Christ to adopt an abuse prevention policy, in furtherance of the United Church of Christ’s efforts to make our churches safe for all. To the extent that Local Churches or other settings of the church represent in an application for abusive acts coverage that they have adoped an abuse prevention policy that contains the material components itemized in the application for insurance, when in fact they have not, the insurer may have a basis for declining to cover a claim under the policy.
The Office of General Counsel, drawing from significant work done by ministries in the United Church of Christ, has prepared a sample abuse prevention policy for consideration by Local Churches, which is available on the ucc.org website, and can be downloaded and adapted by Local Churches and other church settings. Updates to the 2021 version include prohibitions on non-sexual harassment and provisions on sex offenders in worship. Note that the Insurance Board also provides a sample policy as a starting point for Local Churches.
It is important to note that this is a “model” or “sample” policy. It does not cover every issue that Local Churches may want to consider in the development of such a policy. Nor does it reflect the law of each and every state. Many states and localities are enacting laws that have specific requirements for harassment policies, and churches may be subject to these laws. Additionally, state and local employment laws may apply. Consistent with UCC polity and practice, Local Churches adopt their own policies. Local Churches and other settings are encouraged to consider adopting the policy as adapted, revised, or changed to meet their own unique circumstances, state laws, or other factors. It is very important that the policy a Local Church adopts and implements complies with applicable federal and state laws regarding employment, privacy, and inquiries regarding criminal history. All laws are subject to change from time to time by action of state legislature, Congress, and state and federal courts. Therefore, Local Churches should develop and periodically review the policy with the assistance of persons knowledgeable in these laws. The ministries of the National Setting of the United Church
OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL
Heather E. Kimmel
The Time is Now: Guide to Developing Abuse Prevention Policies
Sample Abuse Prevention Policy
How to Report Clergy Ethics Violations
Sample Limited Access Agreement (Please also view the recording on Sex Offenders in Your Congregation: Recommendations and Best Practices, available on this page.)
Recording: Sex Offenders in Your Congregation: Recommendations and Best Practices
Spotlight Discussion Guide
Insurance Board Church Safety Resources
Insurance Board SafeConductTM Workbench
Our Whole Lives Comprehensive Human Sexuality curriculum
Thursdays in Black, a World Council of Churches effort to end gender-based sexual violence