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Creating safer and more welcoming spaces

Posted: January 21 2023 at 02:27 PM
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One of the goals of the Northern Illinois Conference for 2022 was to ramp up our Safe Sanctuaries training and increase the number of volunteers who have gone through this valuable course. Online training through Safe Gatherings is an ongoing tool for this training. In addition, eight Safe Sanctuaries Trainings were held in 2022 throughout the summer and fall to train over 1,850 lay and staff. This brings our number of trained leaders in the past 2 years to over 2,790! These leaders are Sunday school teachers, choir directors, youth leaders, mission trip chaperones, camp staff, clergy, and even church office staff and ushers. Eighty percent of our churches in the conference have at least one person trained.

Why is this so important? Training in Safe Sanctuaries is not a sign that our church volunteers are not to be trusted; instead, it is a witness to our commitment to provide safe spaces for ministries and programs with those who have little voice and are easily exploited. It is a witness that the church is providing trusted adults who can prevent abuse and sometimes identify those who have suffered abuse at the hands of another.

Training equips our leaders in identifying predatory behavior and provides tools for recognizing signs and symptoms in those who have been harmed. When we have leaders well-trained in prevention, we deter bad behaviors. When we model good practices, we help others learn as well.

“I am grateful for the commitment of our local churches to creating safe spaces.”  Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Assistant to the Bishop, shared. "The growth in trained leaders has been phenomenal. With 2,793 trained adults reported, our conference has a 2.1 ratio of children to volunteers. This work is never completed and I hope we will continue to give this focus a high priority.”

Thank you for your commitment to protecting the vulnerable groups we serve.

If you have not yet been trained in Safe Sanctuaries practices and you work with children whether in the church, in your community, in a music or sports program, or any setting, please take action today. Visit our website and click on the link for Safe Gatherings to find a self-guided online course you can take at any time to equip yourself to be an even better guardian of our future.

Visit the Safe Sanctuaries Page


143 churches in the Northern Illinois Conference have met the highest level of commitment to provide safe spaces for worship! To receive this recognition, an organization must have at least four percent of average weekly attendance trained. In addition, churches must have at least 3 people trained, and this applies to the smallest churches.

Algonquin: Christ
Arlington Heights: First
Aurora: First Nueva Vida UMC
Aurora: Wesley
Barrington: Salem
Bartlett: Good Shepherd
Belvidere: First
Blue Island: La Gracia de Dios NFC
Bolingbrook: Friendship
Buffalo Grove: Kingswood 
Carol Stream St. Andrew 
Cherry Valley
Chicago: Amor de Dios UMC
Chicago: Englewood-Rust
Chicago: First Temple
Chicago: Hartzell Memorial
Chicago: Humboldt Park
Chicago: Indo Pak
Chicago: Kelly Woodlawn
Chicago: Morgan Park
Chicago: Olivet
Chicago: Ravenswood Fellowship
Chicago: St. Matthew
Chicago: Trinity
Chicago: Urban Village
Chicago: Wesley
Crystal Lake: First
Deerfield: Christ
Des Plaines: First
Dixon: First
Dixon: Grace
Dolton: Faith
Downers Grove: First
Elgin: Cornerstone
Elgin: First
Elk Grove: Prince of Peace
Elmhurst: Faith Evangelical
Elmhurst: First
Evanston: First
Evanston: Hemenway
Fox River Gove Community
Franklin Grove 
Franklin Park: First UMC
Franklin Park: Living Waters
Franklin Park: Living Waters O'Hare NFC
Freeport: First
Freeport: Harmony
Genoa: Faith
Glen Ellyn: First
Good Samaritan 
Grayslake: United Protestant Church
Harvard: First
Joliet: Grace
Joliet: Hope
Lake Bluff: Grace
LaMoille: Community
Lansing: First
LaSalle: Grace
Lombard: Faith
Lombard: First
Machesney Park: New Life
Maywood: Neighborhood
Mendota: First
Mendota: Zion
Morris: First
Mount Morris: Disciples
Mount Prospect: Trinity
Naperville: Community
Naperville: Grace
Naperville: Korean
Naperville: Wesley
Northbrook: Northbrook
Oak Park: First
Olympia Fields
Oswego Wellspring
Oswego: Good Shepherd
Ottowa: Epworth
Paletine: First
Park Forest: Grace United Protestant
Princeton: First
River Forest
Rock Falls
Rockford: Beth Eden
Rockford: Centennial
Rockford: Christ
Rockford: Grace
Sandwich United
Savanna: First
Schaumburg: Our Redeemer's
Schaumburg: Our Saviour's
Skokie Central 
South Elgin: Community
Sterling: Wesley
Stockton: Wesley
Sugar Grove 
Waukonda: Federated
West Chicago: First
West Dundee: First
Wheatland Salem 
Wheaton: Aldersgate
Wheaton: Gary
Wheeling: First Korean
Wilmette: Trinity
Wilmington: First
Winthrop Harbor: North Prairie
Yorkville: Trinity
Zion: Memorial

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