Safe Church Policy and Procedures
We at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury (FCCOWT) are a welcoming community and believe that we must create a safe and secure environment for worship, for our children and youth programs and all intergenerational events. We believe in the extravagant welcome and want to ensure that all are able to worship with us. We can do so by safeguarding the spiritual, emotional and physical safety of all church participants as a guiding principle for our Safe Church Policy.
Spiritual Safety (See our Open and Affirming Statement, here)
- People have the freedom to express their faith appropriately.
- People’s beliefs are treated respectfully.
- Kindness and civility are the norm.
- People refrain from gossip and personal attacks.
- Confidentiality is honored.
- Facilities are clean and well lit.
- Exits are clearly marked and free of debris.
- Fire alarms are kept in working order.
- Food preparations areas are clean and health department guidelines are followed.
Our fire alarm, fire extinguishers, and first aid kit are located in the first floor parish hall. There are emergency exits clearly marked in the sanctuary and the parish hall. It is the expectation that any safety concerns will be brought to the attention of the Minister, the Church School Director or a Deacon, all of whom are listed on the weekly service bulletin.
Staff & Volunteers working with Children & Youth
- Two Adult Rule: During all church-sponsored programs for minor children including care by nursery staff or volunteers, youth group outings, and other programs, it is the church’s recommendation that two unrelated adults supervise each group whenever possible.
- CORI Background Check is required of all staff and volunteers working with children and youth. Anyone convicted of any felony or felony by the court, with a child or elder abuse will not be considered, under any circumstances, for a position at FCCOWT.
- Field Trips: It is permissible to have one adult per car with each car carrying a group of young people on a field trip. Drivers must be at least 25 years old, with a clean driving record for the past five years. Field trips and youth events will require approval of the Church School Director or the minister, as well as parental consent, compliance with vehicle rules, and appropriate supervision.
Incident Report and Follow-Up
Any incidents, anything that seems suspicious or unsafe while volunteers or employees are caring for minors should be reported to the Minister in a timely fashion. At that time an Incident Report will be taken and appropriate action will be explored, with a follow-up to the reporter.
FCCOWT observes the Massachusetts standard for reporting abuse. Our staff and volunteers working with children are mandated reporters. Anyone with a reasonable cause to believe that a person under eighteen is suffering or has suffered from abuse will contact the Minister or the Church School Director to bring their concerns forward. The Minister and/or the Church School Director will facilitate the reporting. The West Tisbury Police number is 508-693-0020. Department of Children and Family Services Child at Risk Hotline: 508-791-0500.
Digital and Social Media Guidelines
The ‘two adult rule’ applies to digital and social media guidelines; therefore any extended online communication between an adult and a minor is not appropriate. A staff or volunteer member will not engage in extended texting or email conversations with an individual youth. Generally, when texts or emails are sent to youth, they should be sent to a group of youth plus other adult group leaders and/or parent.