Building a Culture of Safety

At the end of the October 17 service, Rev. Lissa read our covenant (below) and introduced to us the Safer Congregation Policy being developed to assure that our church is a safe and nurturing environment for all.

Toward that goal, the Board of Trustees has created a Task Force of Dale Young and Gina Stephens to help create policies to prevent and address issues pertaining to the safety of our people, places, and things.

  • People – staff, volunteers, leaders, congregants, guests, children, youth, vulnerable adults, etc.
  • Places – congregational buildings, grounds, campus, etc.
  • Things – finances, data, property, etc.

This is a long-term project, and we will recruit other volunteers and members with knowledge and expertise in each area that we address. The first area the Board asked the Task Force to work on is the safety of our children and youth. We had a very productive first meeting with the RE Committee, including Naomi Yoshida, our DRE, and we will meet with them a couple more times.

We have relied heavily on the extensive resources of the UUA and have collected sample policies from other UU churches — our goal is to create a policy that fits UUCLB’s unique needs.

Many of the recommended “best practices” are already being conducted effectively by the DRE and RE Committee, but the documentation needs to be formalized. Other recommendations will require changes to our current and past practices.

After we have incorporated the RE Committee’s input, we will open up the discussion to the congregation and parents – possibly at the November Town Hall. Based on the amount of time needed to complete the policy and develop the procedures and forms needed, we have recommended that the board think about implementation for the next church year (2022-23).

If we accept the shared responsibility for becoming a safer congregation, we all need to educate ourselves about the issues of abuse, and to support the efforts to create a culture of safety and respect.

Submitted by Dale Young and Gina Stephens,
Safer Congregation Task Force

Our Covenant

As Unitarian Universalists, we come together as a covenantal faith which outlines our relationship with one another. It is a voluntary and unconditional agreement to act in ways which express our Unitarian Universalist principles:

We, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach, believe our commitment to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; spiritual growth; and the use of democratic process within our congregation compels us to create a safe environment that protects children, youth and adults from harm and promotes their spiritual growth.

While we are an inclusive community, affirming our congregants’ varied beliefs, opinions, and life experiences, concern for the safety and well-being of the congregation as a whole takes priority over the privileges and inclusion of any one individual.

As a covenantal community, our safety is based on maintaining an environment where right relations can flourish. When any person’s physical and emotional wellbeing, safety or freedom to safely express their beliefs or opinions is threatened, the source of the threat must be addressed firmly and promptly.