Churches Large and Small Work to Protect our Children

 Members gather at First UMC, Kerrville for  Trusted con Confianza training.

Members gather at First UMC, Kerrville for Trusted con Confianza training.

Churches large and small continue to protect our children by working to ensure their leaders are Trusted con Confianza (trusted with confidence).

Following Annual Conference 2017 and the adoption of the new Rio Texas Child, Youth, and Vulnerable Adult safety policy, the Rio Texas Conference Safety Task Force launched Trusted con Confianza – inviting churches and organizations across the connection to participate in this certification ministry.

Churches large and small have said “yes” to safe ministry– working on policies and inviting leaders to go through the certification process.

Bethany United Methodist Church gathered 165 leaders for their first Trusted training in February. Other large congregations including First United Methodist Church, Kerrville, and Boerne United Methodist Church followed close behind with over 100 leaders at onsite trainings.

Smaller congregations are also doing this hard and holy work.

Many congregations are either hosting in-person trainings – bringing in a newly trained Trusted con Confianza facilitator – or they are gathering groups at the church or in homes to participate in an online training together.

Rev. Everett McCarley, pastor of Medina Valley UMC in Castroville, said that his congregation got started implementing the program immediately.

“We were told the year before it passed that it was coming, and we had a year to implement—it seemed pretty generous to us,” said McCarley

The church scheduled their first training session right away.

“We invited the local American Legion Post to come sell Tacos as a community outreach program and hopefully a way to entice more to attend,” he said.

That doesn’t mean everyone was on board right away.

“Most people don’t like change because now it is going to be different,” said McCarley. “However, people eventually see the importance of the work. We owe our youth and vulnerable adults the best care and best protection available—it is the correct Jesus response to care for those that cannot care for themselves.”

FUMC, Ganado Rev. Mark Smith described his church’s initial response as “grumbling.” After last year’s annual conference, he decided to make the best of it.

“I traveled to an early morning meeting with Dr. Campen at the conference office and was pleasantly surprised at her willingness to listen to my concerns, and offer ideas and suggestions,” said Smith.  “I went back to my churches energized, and began the task of selling the program to my members.”

Smith said people outside the church have begun to take notice of the changes.

“Members of the community began commenting to our members how lucky they were to be part of a proactive, rather than a reactive denomination,” said Smith. “ We even noticed a few visiting ‘families’, not comfortable with their former church homes response to the realities of today’s society.”

“As of this date, all of our volunteers are certified or going through the training.  I am proud of our little church, and the United Methodist Church for working to provide a safe place for the future.”

Rio Texas Director of Generational Ministries Rev. Dr. Tanya Campen is thankful for the positive response to the program.

“To all the churches large and small who have joined us in this important work, to the individuals who have said yes to safe and trusted ministry–we are extremely grateful,” said Campen. “Thank you for your feedback and support as we continue to make this an excellent ministry and ensure that all of God’s children are safe.”

The Rio Texas Annual Conference is available to help churches begin certifying their staff and volunteers. Informational webinars are available that explain the process and give participants an opportunity to ask questions.

Policy webinars focus on guiding ministry leaders as they create, edit, and implement a policy in their communities.  28 facilitators are available to assist you in this work as they lead trainings across the conference.

Learn more at riotexas.org/safe.