Affected by Disaffiliation? Find out how you can move forward in mission in South Georgia

Safe Sanctuaries
is the name commonly given by local United Methodist Annual Conferences and local churches to their individual efforts to make conference, district, and local church programs welcoming and safe for children and youth. The General Conference mandate of 1996 requires all United Methodist congregations, regardless of size, to implement policies and procedures that help protect children, youth and vulnerable adults; protect the adult workers who serve in these ministries; and protect the various assets of the church for making disciples of Jesus Christ. 

The Annual Conference Safe Sanctuaries Team developed a policy to govern the programs and ministries sponsored by the South Georgia Annual Conference. This policy was presented and approved at the Annual Conference session in June 2007 and then amended at the June 2022 session. Click here to download the policy

What should churches do to keep participants safe from abuse and workers safe from false allegations of abuse?

Safe Sanctuaries, written by Rev. Joy Thornburg Melton, can guide you through the process. Each church should recruit a team of church leaders, including Nursery, Children’s and Youth staff, age level coordinators, chairpersons from Trustees and Finance committees, educators, attorneys and police persons to write policy and procedures for each church’s governing body to adopt. If a church is not actively engaged in enforcement of their policies and procedures, they run the risk of being found negligent.

As a Christian community of faith and a United Methodist congregation, you should:

  1. Screen paid and volunteer workers.
  2. Implement prudent operational procedures in all programs and events.
  3. Train paid and volunteer workers regarding policies and procedures.
  4. Report suspected incidents of child abuse according to Georgia state law; respond appropriately to both victim and the accused as well as to media inquiries if an incident occurs.

Every local church should know:

  • How to educate the church
  • How to write policy and procedures
  • How to screen workers
  • How to train workers
  • How to report suspected abuse 

South Georgia Safe Sanctuaries Information and Resources


The South Georgia Conference staff of the Office of Connectional Ministries can assist you at no cost to your local church. For questions, call Suzanne Akins at 912-638-8626, ext. 107 or by email at

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