Introducing the NEW Safer Sanctuaries



Safe Sanctuaries has long been a trusted source of policy and procedural guidance for abuse prevention in the church. First published in 1998, Safe Sanctuaries has guided churches and other affiliated institutions as they implement abuse prevention plans for children, youth, and vulnerable adults. A changing world, however, calls for new and updated approaches to the work of abuse prevention. In April 2023, The Upper Room will be publishing a new resource, Safer Sanctuaries: Nurturing Trust within Faith Communities, that builds on the strong foundation of past efforts while preparing churches for the work of the future.

In anticipation of this forthcoming publication, Discipleship Ministries and The Upper Room will offer a four-part webinar series featuring insights from Safer Sanctuaries writers. A sample version of the 2023 print resource will be available for all webinar registrants.

The series will include four informative 45-minute sessions offering lively discussions that provide highlights of the essential concepts covered in this new and updated resource. Sessions include:

October 6 | Part I: Moving from Fear to Flourishing: A Theological and Conceptual Framework

Part I of this series will address the essential shift in perspective of the new and improved Safer Sanctuaries resource. This session will focus on the call to discipleship expressed in efforts to create safer spaces for leaders and participants. Join Bishop Peggy Johnson and Angela Schaffner for this lively conversation.

October 13 | Part II: Foundational Elements of Safer Sanctuaries

Part II of this series will focus on the building blocks of policy and procedure. This session will explore what we hope to do as a community and how we will enact these goals. Brittany Sky McRay will offer insight into this important discussion.

October 20 | Part III: Putting it All Together

Part III of this series addresses the implementation of Safer Sanctuaries in a specific context, whether that be a church, non-profit, or community group. Chris Wilterdink and Kevin Johnson will share communal knowledge about contextualization and the new Safer Sanctuaries resource.

October 27 | Part IV: Blessing and Sending

In Part IV of this series, we will look at how to take steps toward creating a culture of flourishing instead of fear. Guide Bishop Peggy Johnson will offer a blessing and sending forth.

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About the Hosts

Chris Wilterdink is the Director of Young People’s Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, an agency of the United Methodist Church. He has been part of Discipleship Ministries for the last 11 years. Prior to that, Chris held ministry roles in the local church for over 12 years. Chris’ undergraduate degree in English Education and Master’s in Non-Profit Management have shaped his approach to ministry. Chris is also the father of two awesome kids, husband to an amazing wife, and an outdoor enthusiast. He has published several books including Building Spiritual Muscle, Everyday Discipleship: Covenant Discipleship with Youth, and most recently the eBook series Crash Courses in Youth Ministry. He is also responsible for planning and preparing for YOUTH 2023, the national gathering for United Methodist Youth.


Kelly Peterson has been involved with the work of Safe Sanctuaries for over 13 years. She was a trainer of trainers and developer of best practices as a part of the Safe Sanctuaries team for both the California-Nevada Annual Conference and the Division of Young People's Ministries for Discipleship Ministries. She participated in a focus group for the CDC in their development of new policies around Child Abuse Prevention. She currently serves as Executive Director/CEO of Camp Fire Heart of Iowa where she is helping implement new policies, training and practices of national standards for the organization.

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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.