About Safe Gatherings
The California-Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church is committed to ensuring safe places of worship and fellowship for all. It is the policy of the California-Pacific Conference that each church must have an abuse prevention policy in place, and have established procedures for screening and background checks, training, supervision and safe practices, response, and reporting.
Safe Gatherings is the required abuse prevention program for clergy, for staff and volunteers at conference-sponsored children and youth events, and for staff and volunteers at conference camps. Safe Gatherings is the recommended program for lay staff at churches, and for volunteers at churches who regularly serve with children, youth and/or vulnerable populations. It is also recommended for paid and volunteer staff at preschools incorporated as part of a Cal-Pac member United Methodist Church, in addition to whatever training and screening requirements exist for licensure in the state. Churches may choose an abuse prevention program other than Safe Gatherings for lay staff and volunteers described above, as long as it meets the requirements noted in the first paragraph. Churches may also stipulate in their abuse prevention policy the extent to which the policy applies to external organizations using the church’s facilities.
Safe Gatherings is an online abuse prevention program that screens and educates staff and volunteers to help prevent abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable adults in group settings. When employees and volunteers are trained to identify potential abusers, recognize the signs of abuse, and know how to handle reporting, they are better equipped to prevent abuse.
The California-Pacific Conference and most congregations utilize Safe Gatherings to enable churches, camps, clergy, staff, and Conference-affiliated groups to meet their screening and training responsibilities for those who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults.
Staff and volunteers who serve in ministry to these groups complete the approval process every three years to maintain their approval status. Individuals who complete an application, background check, and the online training may be approved and authorized to work with those groups in any church-related setting.
Screening includes obtaining background checks and professional references. The training is comprehensive and customized for our organization. Applicants may complete the online training modules at their own pace. The training typically takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
- References: The approval process requires one professional and one clergy reference to assist in qualifying all applicants. Reference requests are submitted and received electronically.
- Training: Training may be completed online once the application has been completed and payment has been made. After successful completion of the training course, it will continue to be available for review.
- Approval: Upon satisfactory completion of all components of the Safe Gatherings process, applicants and their account administrator will be notified by email. Approval is valid for 3 years.
Cost of the Program
The cost per applicant is $45 (effective April 1, 2019)
The $45 covers:
- Background checks: National and State Criminal Check, National and State Sex offender list and 7-year county search for all US addresses where applicant has lived during past seven years.
- Online application
- Two electronic reference checks
- A self-paced, comprehensive training course that addresses responsibilities and best practices related to abuse prevention and boundary awareness.
- Course test
- Administrative access for the organization – which includes applicants, status, date of approval, approval expiration, email address, and phone number
- Administrative and applicant notification
- Telephone support 8 am to 5 pm Central time
- Safe Gatherings review of all information
- Copies of background check reports sent to applicant upon their request, in compliance with California requirements
- Adverse actions notices sent to applicant when applicant not hired due to background check results
- Ability to pay by applicant at the time of application
- Ability to set up the organization so applications are paid by the organization
- Documentation of approval valid for three years and continued access to online training program for an entire year
- Clergy: Safe Gatherings bills Conference > Conference pays bill > Conference bills church
- Declared Candidates: “Self-pay” Candidate pays upon application
- Volunteers and Lay Staff at Churches: Church sets up “Church-pay” or “Self-pay.” Safe Gatherings bills church if “church-pay.”
- Volunteers who serve with children, youth and/or vulnerable populations at Conference-sponsored events: Safe Gatherings bills Sponsoring Agency > Sponsoring Agency pays Safe Gatherings directly
- All employees, and volunteers who serve with children, youth and/or vulnerable populations at Conference-sponsored camps: Safe Gatherings bills the Camp > Camp pays Safe Gatherings directly
Safe Gatherings certification is transferable from one Cal-Pac Conference entity to another, provided the employee or volunteer is within the three-year certification period. In other words, if an employee or volunteer has been certified under one Conference entity and volunteers for or is employed by another Conference entity within three years of the original certification date, completion can be verified within the Safe Gatherings system. The employee or volunteer does not need to go through Safe Gatherings again until their three-year certification has expired.
- For setting up or accessing account, please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org | 888.241.8258
- For all other questions or further information:
Director of Human Resources
jhanson@ | 626.568.7317