Making Our Churches Safe

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The Insurance Board’s recent transmittal of safe church information and encouragement
that our Local Churches adopt written policies in this regard is an important contribution to the United Church of Christ’s continuing effort to make our churches safe for all. The Insurance Board (IB) sample policy is appropriately characterized as a “starting point” from which churches are encouraged to write a more comprehensive policy as soon as possible. As counsel, I want to facilitate further work in this area.

Drawing significantly from the work done by the Parish Life and Leadership Team, I have prepared a sample safe church policy concerning abuse prevention that I believe complies with the expectations set forth in the IB’s August 21, 2006 transmittal letter and Zurich’s “Supplemental Application for Abusive Act Liability Coverage” previously sent to insureds (questions 9 – 16 in particular).

Download a generic version of this policy suitable for use by Local Churches and readily adaptable by other settings of the church, together with supplemental information. Generic version in Word format with disclosure forms.

Why is compliance important? It is important in part because to the extent that Local Churches or other settings of the church represent in an application for abusive acts coverage that they have adopted a safe church policy that contains material components itemized in the application for such insurance when in fact they have not, the insurer may have a basis for declining to cover a claim under the policy.

I hope you find that the sample policy and additional information posted on the PLL website is a helpful contribution to our ongoing effort to make our churches safe for all.

Important note: This is a “model” or “sample” policy. It does not cover every issue that you may want to consider in the development of such a policy. Nor does it reflect the law of each and every state. Consistent with UCC polity and practice, Local Churches and other settings are encouraged to consider adopting policy as adapted, revised, or changed to meet their own unique circumstances, state laws, or other factors. It is very important that the policy you adopt and implement 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, you should develop and periodically review your policy with the assistance of persons knowledgeable in these laws. Parish Life and Leadership is not engaged in giving legal or professional advice or services by providing this model policy. You are encouraged to consult with your own legal counsel and professional advisors before adopting any safe church policy.

Donald Clark
United Church of Christ General Counsel