Safe Gatherings began in 2012 as a project to assist the Kansas East UMC Conference (now part of the Great Plains UMC Conference) in taking advantage of technology to automate their paper-intensive protection program.
Fueled by a passion for protecting vulnerable populations, we created an online tool to streamline the process and make it easier for the Conference and the churches they serve—and in doing so launched Safe Gatherings. After a year of enhancing the original system, Safe Gatherings began expanding to other United Methodist churches and conferences, and then to additional denominations.
In 2015, Safe Gatherings expanded to work with other organizations that serve children, youth, and vulnerable adults, such as schools and community organizations. Safe Gatherings now serves more than 4,000 churches and organizations across 39 states, including multiple denominations.
Turn on the news or pick up a newspaper and you will see churches, schools, and other organizations lambasted in the press for abuse scandals. We believe that all organizations can do better, and we are here to provide an effective but simple process to provide additional protection. When staff and volunteers go through several levels of background checks, reference checks, and comprehensive abuse prevention training, they know better — what to do, what to look for, and how to protect those they serve.
A lofty goal, some might say, but we hope you agree that this vision cannot be realized without all of us working together. Our ultimate goal is that all organizations, small and large, will take the steps to provide safer environments. It’s a win-win, and those who will gain the most are the most vulnerable among us.