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Safe Sanctuaries

The Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church is committed to ensuring that we provide safe places of worship and fellowship to everyone we serve.
See below for information on training, Safe Sanctuaries policies, and background checks.

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Safe Gatherings Training   

Safe Gatherings is an online abuse prevention program that screens and educates staff and volunteers to help prevent abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable adults in group settings. When employees and volunteers are trained to identify potential abusers, recognize the signs of abuse, and know how to handle reporting, they are better equipped to prevent abuse.

The Northern Illinois Conference and our congregations utilize Safe Gatherings to enable our churches, camps, and affiliated groups to meet their screening and training responsibilities for those who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults.

Staff and volunteers who serve in ministry to these groups complete the approval process every 3 years to maintain their approval status. Individuals who complete an application, background check and the online training may be approved and authorized to work with those groups in any church-related setting.

Screening includes obtaining background checks and professional references. The training is comprehensive, and applicants may complete the online training modules at their own pace. The training typically takes about 1.5 hours to complete.


Application: Click on the links at the bottom of this page to access the Safe Gatherings system and complete the online application. Individuals can log in to their account at any time to check the status of their application.

Payment:  The application process fee is $35.75 for most applicants, or $52.50 if a motor vehicle check is also required for your position.  The price includes the reference checks, background checks, and training required to be Safe Gatherings-approved. Applicants are responsible for payment by credit card at the time of application unless your church has decided to pay the application fee for those serving your congregation. If your church is covering this cost, it will be indicated when you complete your online application.

All churches in the conference are set up in Safe Gatherings. Applicants must correctly choose the denomination and state where your church or group is located, and as you begin to type in the name of your church or group, it will display in a drop-down menu as you begin the application process.  Click on the correct organization name, the city will auto-fill, and you may complete the balance of your application.

References: The approval process requires one professional and one clergy reference to assist in qualifying all applicants. Reference requests are submitted and received electronically. It may be helpful to notify your chosen references so that they can anticipate receiving the request.

Training:  Training may be completed online at your convenience once your application has been completely filled out and payment has been made. If you prefer not to complete the training in one sitting, you may log out and complete it later. Safe Gatherings allows you to either restart the training where you left off or begin again from the beginning. Once you have successfully passed the quiz, you will continue to have access to the training course for one year from your date of application so that you may use the training as a reference.

Approval: Upon satisfactory completion of all components of the Safe Gatherings process, applicants and their church administrator will be notified by email. Approval is valid for 3 years.


Contact the Safe Gatherings team at or 888.241.8258 for additional information or with questions about the program.

Start the process

Click button below to start the Safe Gatherings process

Safe Gatherings Registration

Click button below to log in to your Safe Gatherings application

Safe Gatherings Login

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Writing (or Updating) Your Safe Sanctuaries Policy

Discipleship Ministries provides us with excellent resources for local church Safe Sanctuary Policies.  On their website, you will find guidelines and sample policies for large and small membership congregations along with additional videos and resources for your work in providing a safe church environment.


Background Checks:

The Northern Illinois Conference has moved to a direct access procedure for background checks with our partner, Trusted Employees, to make them more timely and flexible for our churches.

Trusted Employees provides a comprehensive range of applicant screening and verification services that are scalable, customizable and can be integrated with applicant tracking systems.

  • Over 20 years of experience
  • More than 5,000 active clients
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
  • Member, National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS)
  • Certified by multiple independent parties focused on data security and privacy

Each church receives a unique login and the ability to assign users to the system to allow access to the background screening account. Trusted Employees will begin setting up training sessions for users to show you how to utilize the system.

The Northern Illinois Conference remains the parent organization, which ensures low cost for the local church. Click here for pricing.

For instructions on how to set up a new account for your church or for direct assistance with your account or compliance issues, please contact Donna Ploof, National Sales Executive at 952.259.3018 or by email

IMPORTANT: Before conducting a background check, a disclosure release form must be signed by the applicant and the applicant must be provided with a document detailing rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Both documents are available under the “Resources” tab when you log into your Trusted Employees account. Trusted Employees also offers “Apply Now” Online Background Authorization where applicants can fill out the disclosure form online through “Invite Applicant.” Information is available under the “Tools” tab on the Trusted Employees website.


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