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Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen

October 9, 2019

Dear Friends,

I love watching the children come down for the Time for Young Disciples on Sunday mornings.  They are so beautiful, so wonderful and so vulnerable.  When we plan for Sunday School, Vacation Bible School or even to hold a nursery, we – as a congregation – accept the terrible and all important responsibility of keeping them safe while they are in our care.  When we hold a youth event, we take on this same responsibility to keep them safe.  We want everyone who comes into our building and fellowship to be safe, and we bear extra responsibility for those who cannot safeguard themselves.  I am proud that this congregation has a robust and thoughtful Child Protection Policy that is in place to safeguard everyone under the age of 18 from sexual predators. 

Do you know that we run background checks on everyone who has access to children or youth under 18?  You do if you teach Sunday School or work as a youth advisor!  All staff, Elders, Deacons and volunteers are required to fill out a volunteer application (with references) and give the church permission to run a criminal background check (local and national) on them.  That is good, but that is not enough!

In addition, our policy requires that I tell the congregation each year through this newsletter about this policy, and that we train the leadership and volunteers in the policy and in our required standards of behavior.   For example, it is our practice to have two, un-related adults supervising any group of minors at all times. If for some reason that is not possible then, we have a “rule of three.”  That means that there must be at least three individuals, one of whom must be an adult, present in each classroom and at every event.  The intention is never to create a situation where a person who wishes to do harm could have unsupervised access to children or youth in our care.  Because there are those who seek to do children harm, we are more than happy to inconvenience ourselves in this way to ensure their safety.  Andrea Paschal ensures that our teachers are trained in the policy and procedures.  Bill Wannamaker ensures that our youth leaders know and comply.  And I spend time talking about this with every new class of Elders and Deacons.  If you want to know more about this very important practice and policy, please don’t hesitate to ask us!

Our best insurance against any child ever being abused or molested is a well-trained and alert congregation who knows what our standards of behavior are and who know how and to whom to report any suspicions. If you ever see anything that worries you, please come and talk to me. The safety of those beautiful and vulnerable children and youth who are a part of our family of faith is a non-negotiable here at FLPC.

            See you in worship.

            Ellen Fowler Skidmore

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