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 Training

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 seeking training, please contact your parish for instructions. Certification must be renewed every five years. 

The Episcopal Church approved Safe Church Training is provided by Praesidium Academy. The online courses are up-to-date, easy to use, and available to complete at your own pace. 

The Episcopal Church is working to update the in-person training curriculum. In the meantime, parishes are encouraged to sign up parishioners for online Safe Church training. 

How do I set-up my parish to take Safe Church Training online?

Here are the steps to take to sign-up your parishioners:

  1. Identify one or two people in the parish who will be the Safe Church Administrators. The role of the Administrators will be to set-up parishioners in the Praesidium Academy website and to track their progress as they begin to take the safe church courses.
  2. Send the name and email address of each Safe Church Administrator to Kathy Dengler at kdengler@cnyepiscopal.org. Kathy will setup the Administrators on the Praesidium Academy website. The Administrators will have the authority to log-in, set-up parishioners, track their progress as they take the courses, and to download a transcript of completed courses. 

Who should be trained and what courses should they take?

Here is a link to the list of parish positions and the courses required for each position: Safe Church, Safe Communities Course List

I am a Safe Church Administrator for my parish. How do I use the Praesidium Academy system?

The first time you visit Praesidium Academy, please click on the “Take A Tour” button on the homepage. 

When ready, please floor these step-by-step instructions for setting up a person to take safe church courses:

  1. Sign into Praesidim Academy using your email address and password
  2. Click on Users (on the blue taskbar)
  3. Click on Learners
  4. Click on blue “gear” icon on the upper right corner of your screen
  5. Click on Add Learner
  6. Fill in the information and click “send invite”
  7. Email parishioner asking them to be on the lookout for an email from “donotreply@praesidium academy”.
  8. Email the list of required courses to the parishioner: Safe Church Courses

What are the next steps once courses are complete?

Once all of the required courses are completed, click the “Transcript” button. The transcript will show all of the courses that have been completed and the date of completion for each.  This document should be kept on file at the parish. It may also be sent to the diocesan office when requesting lay ministry licenses.

Additional requirements

Individuals who are completing Safe Church Training for the first time and are using the online courses to do so must also complete 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.

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.

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 kdengler@cnyepiscopal.org 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.

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.

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.

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