Safe Church

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The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York is committed to the safety and well-being of the adults and children who make up our beloved community.
When we are baptized, we vow to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and “respect the dignity of every human being.”
These vows are reflected in the Safe Church policies we have developed to prevent sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment in our churches and diocesan programs.

Safe Church Policies

Safe Church policies safeguard the adults and children who take part in our churches and diocesan programs:

Compliance with NYS-mandated Sexual Harassment Prevention policies: 

In order to ensure compliance with state-mandated Sexual Harassment Prevention policies, all church staff should:

  • Complete Safe Church training at least every five years, per diocesan Safe Church policies, AND,
  • View Sexual Harassment Prevention Training videos from the New York State Dept. of Labor: Part 1 and Part 2 (total viewing time approximately 45 minutes)

Reporting a Concern: Intake Officers & Pastoral Care Team

Our Intake Officers handle complaints related to any violation of Safe Church policies, in accordance with civil laws and the canons of The Episcopal Church.

Our Pastoral Care Team provides counseling and support to potential victims of Church-related sexual abuse, exploitation, or harassment at no cost. Any of our Intake Officers can make a referral to this team.

The Very Rev. Wanda Copeland | (612) 810-3293 | e-mail
Mr. Lawrence Mathews | (315) 760-2773 | e-mail
Dr. Jack Wohlers | (315) 415-0768 | e-mail

Background Checks

Background checks are required for all new parish and diocesan employees and for certain volunteer positions; please see diocesan Safe Church policies for complete requirements. To initiate the background check process for a new hire or volunteer, please email Kathy Dengler at [email protected] to start the process. Please included the individual’s full name and email address. The cost of the background check is $22. Once the report has been completed the Diocese will send an invoice to the parish.

Safe Church Training: Policy changes during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Effective May 2020 until further notice. 

The requirement for Safe Church training to be taken “in-person” for the initial training has been lifted during this time of social distancing. Online training through Praesidium Academy is currently accepted with the following requirements:

  1. Trainee/Clergy Person Conversation: Information presented in the online training modules is challenging and the material may cause the reader to experience discomfort and disturbing thoughts or emotions. Therefore, before starting the online training, the trainee must have a conversation with their clergyperson. The purpose of the conversation is to address any concerns the person may have about the topic of sexual abuse and to be sure they have contact information for resources if they find they are struggling with the material.
  2. Follow-Up Zoom Workshop: One of the best ways to prevent sexual abuse in our parishes is by encouraging people to speak about this topic to each other. In-person trainings provide an opportunity to practice speaking out loud about the prevention of sexual abuse. This opportunity is lost for those taking the online training as their initial training. Therefore, it is required to attend a one-hour Zoom workshop as a follow-up within 6 months of the online training. These will be scheduled periodically. Please check the diocesan calendar for a list of upcoming workshops.

Questions about this policy change may be directed to Kathy Dengler on the diocesan staff.

Who Should Be Trained?

All clergy, licensed lay ministers, and most parish leaders and volunteers are required to maintain up-to-date Safe Church certification. For a complete list of roles for which Safe Church training is required, please review this document. In addition, all members of our churches are encouraged to participate in Safe Church training. The more informed and aware we are, the safer our churches will be for all children and adults.

Individuals who complete Safe Church training are awarded a certificate. Certification must be renewed every five years. 

In-Person Safe Church Trainings

In-person Safe Church trainings are generally organized by parishes, districts, or other groups, and occasionally by the Diocese at in-person diocesan gatherings.

If your parish, district or group would like to plan a Safe Church training, please contact a trainer from the Safe Church Trainers Roster and arrange a mutually agreeable date and time.

Responsibilities of the host parish/group:

  • Mileage reimbursement and/or an honorarium may be offered to the trainer.
  • Arrange to print the necessary course materials in advance.
  • Provide light refreshments during the break.
  • Pre-register participants and inform the trainer of the total number of individuals expected at least three days prior to the workshop. Each workshop can accommodate approximately 15-20 participants, but enrollment should be discussed with the trainer.
  • Inform Kathy Dengler of the time, date, and location of the training if it is open to the wider diocese.

Online Safe Church Training

Clergy and lay parishioners in the Diocese may renew Safe Church certification online at Praesidium Academy, provided their parish has registered to participate.

If your parish would like to be registered to participate in online Safe Church training via Praesidium Academy, please contact Kathy Dengler. Each parish will be asked to identify an individual who will serve as the parish’s Safe Church online administrator. The administrator will be responsible for setting up parishioners in the online system. Please provide Kathy the name, email address, and phone number of the parish’s designated administrator. Kathy will work with the administrator to set up your parish’s Praesidium Academy account.

Which courses should I take? Please view a list of required courses by position/role. Questions may be directed to Kathy Dengler.

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