A Safe Congregation
WHAT IS A SAFE CONGREGATION?
A safe congregation is one in which those who participate in the religious community— members, guests, ministers, and employees—are free to engage in activities and explore ideas and beliefs without fear or concern for their physical and emotional well-being. It is a congregation that strives to uphold all of the UU Purposes and Principles, and most specifically the following three:
• The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
• Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
• Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
WHY DOES UU UTICA HAVE A SAFE CONGREGATION TEAM?
Openness to a wide variety of individuals is one of the prime values held by our congregation and the UUA, expressed in our Purposes and Principles. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica is committed to promoting a safe and welcoming environment that is supportive of personal and spiritual growth. For most people, and for most of our history, this acceptance of the diverse needs, styles, and opinions of the people who enter our doors has enriched our community. Our Safe Congregation Policy was created to intervene when seriously harmful or disruptive behavior occurs in our community.
This focuses on two issues that may arise in the course of our relationships and interactions with each other:
• Possible sexual abuse, harassment or misconduct internal to the UUU community
• Possible disruptive behavior that is perceived as a threat to the safety, physical and/or emotional well-being of any adult or child, restriction of the freedom to safely express his or her beliefs or opinions, or actions that seriously disrupt congregational activities and participation.
The work of the Board and the Safe Congregation Team has been informed by efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY AND PURPOSE OF THE TEAM?
The Safe Congregation Team is available to anyone in our faith community who has concerns about incidents that cause them to feel unsafe while on the grounds of UUU, or while participating in activities sponsored by UUU.
It is neither the goal of the Board nor the role of the Safe Congregation Team to prevent or curtail the expression of ideas and points of view. Passionate challenging of another’s beliefs, strong philosophical disagreements, personality conflicts, and even people simply not being nice to each other occur as a part of normal, everyday life. As defined by the Board, the Safe Congregation Team enters only in those narrowly defined situations that involve actual or threatened harassment, abuse, intimidation, or seriously disruptive behavior that threatens the wellbeing of our religious community.
HOW DOES A COMPLAINT INVESTIGATION GET STARTED?
Anyone can bring an issue for consideration before the Safe Congregation Team. To start the process, please contact the minister, any member of the Safe Congregation Team, or any member of the Board of Trustees. A Board member or Safe Congregation Team member will have a conversation with the complainant to get basic information that will allow the Team to determine whether the complaint falls within the scope of the Team. If it appears that the issue clearly is or may be within the charge of the Safe Congregation Team, the member gives the person making the complaint a copy of the complaint form and asks that it be completed and returned to the member, to describe the actions or incidents leading to the complaint. Once the form is returned, it will be forwarded to Safe Congregation for follow-up.
MEMBERS OF SAFE CONGREGATION