from the pastor

Dear friends,

Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes a child welcomes me." (Matthew 18:5). Children are our present and our future, our hope, our teachers, our inspiration. They are full participants in the life of the church and in the realm of God.  

Jesus also said, "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones..., it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6) Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to the little ones, the children. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that "...children must be protected from economic, physical and sexual exploitation and abuse." (para. 162C)    

Tragically, churches have not always been safe places for children. Child sexual abuse, exploitation and ritual abuse (ritual abuse refers to abusive acts committed as part of ceremonies or rites; ritual abusers are often related to cults, or pretend to be) occur in churches, both large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural and racial lines. It is real, and it appears to be increasing. Most annual conferences can cite specific incidents of child sexual abuse and exploitation in their churches. Virtually every congregation has among its members adult survivors of early sexual trauma.     

Such incidents are devastating to all who are involved: the child, the family, the local church and its leaders. Increasingly, churches are torn apart by the legal, emotional, and monetary consequences of litigation following allegations of abuse.     

God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from sexual and ritual abuse. God calls us to create communities of faith where children and adults grow safe and strong (from The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, pgs. 384-386).

By recommendation and approval of Staff-Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) and Administrative Board, in covenant with all United Methodist congregations, Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church has adopted a Safe Sanctuary Policy and Procedures guideline for the prevention of child abuse in our church.  The Safe Sanctuary Policy and Procedures is available for review using the links above.  

Your continued efforts toward keeping our church a safe place for worship and growing the faith of our children is most important.  Thank you for the love and care given in maintaining a safe environment for all who come here to worship.

May God’s grace and peace continue to dwell in and through each of us as we follow Jesus, make disciples, and transform the world.

Blessings to you,
Rev. Sandra Ireson