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Safe Congregations

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has been a leader in creating both resources and recommended processes to help make congregations safe and welcoming places to all.

Although no policy or knowledge of the issues can absolutely guarantee safety in your congregation under all circumstances, congregations can take pro-active steps to create environments that are safe and prepared. Developing a Comprehensive Safe Congregations Policy is a significant and meaningful process to educate the congregation and build safer communities. In addition to the resources below, you can find more information on the Ethics in Congregational Life web pages.

Restorative Justice

  • Complaints of Professional Misconduct
    What process is followed if a behavioral breach by a credentialed religious professional is suspected or known? The UUA's system for responding to complaints of professional misconduct is grounded in principles of restorative justice and reconciliation.
  • Trauma Response Ministry
    People respond differently in, during and after a crisis or a dangerous situation. But everyone is changed in ways they may not initially realize. Congregations and individuals can find help to cope with traumatic events.

Creating Safe Congregation Policies

  • Resources on Gun Violence:
    a compilation of resources on taking action to prevent gun violence.
  • Balancing Acts: Keeping Children Safe in Congregations
    This ground-breaking, free, online course offers information, policies, and procedural suggestions to create a congregation where children and youth will be safe from sexual abuse. This course provides the essential tools needed for a comprehensive approach to safety and prevention.
  • Church Mutual Insurance Company
    Church Mutual offers an array of safety resources aimed at the unique settings and communities of religious organizations; including resources on fire prevention, workplace safety, and abuse prevention with an opportunity for reduced rates on Background Screening.
  • Responsible Staffing
    Guidelines for calling ministers, hiring professional religious leaders and staff, and recruiting volunteers whose work will put them in close contact with children and vulnerable adults. The recommendations include links to codes for professional conduct for ministers, religious educators, and musicians.
  • The Safe Congregations Handbook
    An excellent resource for nurturing healthy boundaries in faith communities, with clear guidelines, principles, policies, tools and workshops to help congregations create an environment that is safer and more secure for both children and adults

Sexually Healthy Faith Communities

  • Assessing Sexual Health: An Online Guide for UUA Congregations
    Developed by the Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute, and an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, this new online congregational tool developed specifically for UU faith communities identifies 9 building blocks of a sexually healthy congregation. Any congregation can use this new guide to discern ways to better promote the integration of sexuality and spirituality in worship, preaching, pastoral care, children, youth, and adult religious education, and social action programs in the community. Specific checklists also address safe congregations and welcoming policies and programs. This tool can be used by the ministerial and/or lay leadership of the congregation to identify both the strengths and areas where there is a need for improvement on sexuality issues and to develop a plan for improving the sexual health of our congregations.
  • Our Whole Lives (OWL)
    Learn why the Oakland Tribune calls OWL “more than sex education.” This award winning lifespan sexuality curriculum from kindergarten through adulthood equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information to help them make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior.
  • Religious Institute
    This multifaith organization advocates for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society, serving a network of clergy, religious educators, theologians, ethicists, and people of faith committed to sexual and social justice. The Religious Institute’s mission is to change the way America understands the relationship between sexuality and religion.

The Compassionate Congregation

  • Addictions Ministry
    Recognizing the effects of addictions on individuals, families, and the larger congregational community, the UUA Addictions Ministry seeks to transform cultures of misuse and abuse into cultures of healing, wholeness, and health, through education and support.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
    NAMI has established itself as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. Readily available resources and programs include state and local affiliates, education, training, peer support, a Veterans Resource Center, and a Multicultural Action Center.

For more information contact safecongregations @

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, April 3, 2014.

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