In an effort to strengthen our church communities to be safe spaces for all people, Mosaic Conference works diligently to provide resources regarding preventing abuse, supporting all survivors and ensuring child protection.
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:37 (NIV)
Pennsylvania’s Child Protection Law requires clearances on employees and volunteers who have “direct contact” with children and makes all those with frequent direct contact with children and all credentialed leaders (clergy) mandated reporters. Mosaic Conference has decided to implement the same requirements for all of the Conference’s credentialed leaders regardless of the state they live and serve in. Under this new law clearances are also required for other church volunteers. Understanding who needs clearances and getting all of the documents in order can be overwhelming. To aid in this process here are the need to know items.
If you have any questions regarding the needed clearances please feel free to contact the your Leadership Minister or Mary Nitzsche, Assistant Executive Minister.
Who needs clearances?
All employees age 14 and older and volunteers over the age of 18 who have “direct contact” with a child or children. This includes all credentialed leaders regardless of their contact level with children. A child is defined by the law as anyone under the age of 18. Direct contact can be defined as those acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent or guardian, someone providing care, guidance, supervision and or has routine interaction.
For Mosaic Conference congregations, individuals needing clearances include:
- All credentialed leaders
- Sunday School Teachers and assistants
- Nursery volunteers
- Any childcare worker during special events or service times
- Youth sponsors/ leaders
- Chaperones for events
What clearances need to be obtained?
Below you will find information and links to assist you in obtaining the necessary clearances for your state. Please note that your congregation, employer or Conference may require additional forms and background checks. Below are the ones required by law.
These background checks are valid under Pennsylvania law for five years. However, some organizations require them to be renewed yearly. Mosaic Conference requires credentialed leaders to renew their background checks every three years with a credential renewal cycle.
NOTE: all clearance information will be sent back to you and you are responsible for showing the original to your church and/or conference office.
It is expected that if an individual has lived in in their current state of residence for the last 10 years and/or is applying for a volunteer (unpaid) position that they would:
- sign a Child Protection/Criminal Record Background Affirmation document, as they are not required to complete the FBI background check.
A sample of this document can be found here (Spanish version). Also, Souderton Mennonite Church currently uses a “Volunteer Covenant” that can be viewed here. Regardless of the length of residency, all credentialed leaders in Mosaic Conference are required to complete FBI background checks.
Healthy boundaries are a gift. They are helpful guidelines that give shape to our relationships. God set boundaries in the creation of the world, not to limit creation, but to protect it and let it flourish. Having healthy boundaries is a prevention to abuse. The Conference is committed to providing ongoing healthy boundary training for our credentialed leaders.
MC USA is sponsoring several on-line trainings in 2021 – CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
- Healthy Boundaries 101 – March 27, September 18
- Healthy Boundaries 201 – June 19 (self-care emphasis), December 11 (technology emphasis)
Each training will be 6 hours (10:00 am to 4:00 pm EST) and held via Zoom. The cost will be calculated to cover the book plus registration and processing fees. These trainings will be in English (they are working to provide an online 101 training in Spanish). Visit the Healthy Boundaries training webpage on MC USA’s site at https://www.mennoniteusa.org/ministry/church-vitality/healthy-boundaries-training/ for information.
Additionally, Mosaic Conference in conjunction with Atlantic Coast Conference will hold an in-person Healthy Boundaries 101 training on November 17, time and location to be determined (potentially in Chester County, PA, to accommodate participants from both conferences). Watch for info at a later date.
Healthy Boundaries 101 is required for all credentialed leaders; if you have not previously taken this course you must complete the training by December 31, 2021. Healthy Boundaries 201 is required to be completed by all credentialed leaders in Mosaic Conference by the end of 2023.
Reference the email sent to you by Mary Nitzsche regarding the full list of credential renewal requirements for 2021. Contact Mary or the Conference office with any questions.
Mandated Reporter Training
Each state has their own laws regarding who is legally mandated to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Mosaic Conference holds that all credentialed leaders are ethically and biblically responsible to care for the most vulnerable and therefore even if not required by law should report any suspected abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities. All credentialed leaders in Mosaic Conference are therefore required to be trained in mandated reporting for the state in which they live/work. See below for info on obtaining this training.
ALL CREDENTIALED LEADERS SHOULD PURSUE ON-LINE TRAINING IN THEIR STATE OF RESIDENCE, TO FULFILL THEIR 2021 CREDENTIAL RENEWAL REQUIREMENTS.
Confidential Communication with Clergy Regarding Child Safety:
- Confidential Communication Conference Position Statement
- Pennsylvania state law info
Holding a Sunday Service on Child Safety:
(All books listed below are available at the Conference Center Library for checkout, unless otherwise noted.)
- Order of Service Sample for a Child Safety Sunday Service
- Readings For Child Safety Sunday
- Reflections on Planning Implementing a Child Safety Service
- Inviting Survivors Reflections– Questions Used
- Reflections on Abuse from Survivors at Salford Mennonite Church
Child Protection Resources:
Books to use with Children
- Ages 0-5: God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies, by Justin S Holcomb & Lindsey A. Holcomb
- Ages 3-5: The Story of Me (God’s Design for Sex Book 1), by Stan and Brenna Jones
- Ages 5-8: Before I was Born (God’s Design for Sex Book 2), by Carolyn Nystrom
- Ages 8-11:What’s the Big Deal? Why God Cares About Sex (God’s Design for Sex Book 3), by Stan and Brenna Jones
- Ages 11-14: Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You (God’s Design for Sex Book 4), by Stan and Brenna Jones
Helpful Websites for Parents
- Mandated reporting of Suspected Child Abuse – handout from the Mandated Reporter Training
- Child Protection Seminar Slides – June 2015 EDC/FMC Seminar with Ms. Mundy from NOVA.
- Dove’s Nest – Dove’s Nest mission is to empower and equip faith communities to keep children and youth safe in their homes, churches, and communities. Dove’s Nest began as a grassroots movement among concerned Mennonites at the 2009 Mennonite Church USA Convention. This group consisted of volunteers that included pastors, social workers, therapists, and other professionals concerned about the issue of child and youth protection in Mennonite churches.
- Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) – NOVA is a nonprofit organization that helps victims of all types of crime and is local to Bucks County, Pennsylvania
- Keep Kids Safe PA – is the Pennsylvania government website with all information related to the new child protection laws enacted in 2015.
General Addressing/ Preventing Abuse of All People Resources:
- Dove’s Nest has a comprehensive list of resources involving policies, worship & curriculum, speakers and training tools, books and videos and more.
- Preventing and Responding to Sexual Abuse: Some Much-Needed Resources
- Understanding Symptoms of Sexual Abuse
- Healing Through Truth Telling and Open Ears
Books (also see reading lists from Dove’s Nest & Faith Trust Institute)
- Abuse: Response and Prevention – resource booklet from MC USA
- Bancroft, Lundy. When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse, New York: Berkley Books, 2004.
- Body and Soul: Healthy Sexuality and the People of God (Faith & Life Resources, 2010).
- Cunningham, Alison and Baker, Linda. Little Eyes, Little Ears: How Violence Against a Mother Shapes Children as They Grow, London, ON: Centre for Children & Families in the Justice System, 2007.
- Gaede, Beth Ann, editor. When a Congregation is Betrayed: Responding to Clergy Misconduct. The Alban Institute, 2006.
- Heggen, Carolyn Holderread. Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches. Herald Press, 1993. Reprinted Wipf & Stock, 2006.
- McCintock, Karen A. Preventing sexual abuse in congregations: A resource for leaders. The Alban Institute, 2004.
- Mennonite Quarterly Review (ebook), January 2015. This issue is devoted to the theme of sexual abuse–and the related motifs of discipline, healing, and forgiveness–within the Mennonite Church, with a particular focus on the controversy surrounding the actions of its mostly widely recognized theologian, John Howard Yoder (1927-1997).
- Penner, Carol. Healing Waters: Churches Working to End Violence Against Women. Toronto, ON: Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada, 2003.
- The Little Book of Restorative Justice for Sexual Abuse: Hope through Trauma
- Understanding Sexual Abuse by a Church Leader or Caregiver (PDF download),2nd edition. Mennonite Central Committee, 2011.
- West, Traci C. Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter. Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.
- Yoder, Carolyn. The Little Book of Trauma Healing: When Violence Strikes and Community Security is Threatened. Good Books, 2005.
- Dove’s Nest, Faith Communities Keeping Children and Youth Safe
- Faith Trust Institute
- Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE)
- Our Stories Untold
- United Methodist Sexual ethics
- Prevention and Response: Sexual Abuse and Non-Credentialed Individuals – MC USA’s Panel on Sexual Abuse Prevention created guidelines for response when non-credentialed individuals are accused of sexualized violence in the context of congregations, conferences and organizations.