Church Safety

Salford Peace Camp

In an effort to strengthen our church communities to be safe spaces for all people , Franconia Mennonite 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)

    In 2016 a new Child Protection Law went into effect in Pennsylvania. This 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 mandated reporters. Franconia 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.

    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. 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 Franconia Mennonite 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 employer or the conference may require additional forms and background checks. Below are the ones required by law.

    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. If you have any questions regarding the needed clearances please feel free to contact the conference office or email

    All States:

    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 “swear and affirm” document as they are not required to complete the FBI background check.

    A sample of a “swear and affirm” document can be found here. Also, Souderton Mennonite Church currently uses a “Volunteer Covenant” that can be viewed here.


    • Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check (SPA-164) can be obtained online through the Pennsylvania State Police a web-based computer application called “Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History,” (PATCH) here: Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) website. Additional Instruction: NOTE: look for the “Certificate Link” once you have completed all the steps. The certificate is what is needed for those requesting your clearances. A sample can be seen here.  1) Click “Submit New Record”; 2) Complete the form and click “Next”; 3) Fill out additional information and click “Proceed”; 4) Complete form and click “Enter this Request”, then “Finished”; 5) On the next page click “submit”; 6) On the following page you will need to click the “control number” and on the final page click “certificate form.” 7) Save the certificate for your record and submit to the person/organization requesting your clearance.
    • Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance can be submitted and paid for online through the Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS) self-service portal, You will need to create an “Individual Login” and then proceed with the required steps. Once your login is created you will need to login to submit a clearance request. Once your clearance is processed you will receive an email notifying you. At that time log in again and obtain a pdf of your certificate (sample here). This certificate is what is needed to prove you are cleared.
    • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Background Check (Act 114) which is processed through Cogent is required for individuals in paid positions OR volunteers who have lived outside of their current state of residence in the past 10 years. To complete this item you will need to be fingerprinted. Please register online through the Department of Human Services and for the reason select “Employment with significant likelihood of contact with children.” Detailed instructions and online registration can be found at:  To locate a fingerprinting site near you go to and click the link on the lower left “Find a Fingerprint Location.” You will be required to pay the fee for the fingerprint service at the site of your choice. Cost: $27.75 payable by credit card online or money order made payable to 3M Cogent. Once you have been fingerprinted in 6-8 weeks you should receive a certificate in the mail, this is what is needed to prove you have the appropriate clearance. A sample can be seen here.

    For New Jersey:

    For Vermont:

    • Vermont Criminal Record Check can be obtained via mail or online, certified results are required. More information can be found here:
    • Child Protection Registry Self Inquiry Request Form should be completed and submitted. Upon receiving your results you must show the original to your church or conference office. More information can be found here:
    • National Child Protection Act FBI National Record Check requires that you submit a fingerprint card. 1) Locate a fingerprint location (local police jurisdiction or State Police) who is able to take ink-based fingerprints and place them on FBI fingerprint cards.  If you need fingerprint cards, you can download them from the FBI’s website at 2)Register on-line by visiting: and then select “register online.” 3) At the top ofthe page click the box for “This box indicates you will be submitting ink rolled cards from out of state or were directed to do so by your requesting agency.” 4) Agency information on the registration form is either the conference information or your congregation. 5)Go through the online registration process, reason for finger printing should be “Employment with significant likelihood of contact with children.” 6)Print out the last screen where it says you have completed registration. The fee can be paid online with a credit card or you can submit a money order (if using a money order make it payable to 3M Cogent). 7) Take the finger print cards to a local ink fingerprinting site. 8) Mail in the completed cards, a copy of the registration receipt and a money order (if applicable) to PA DPW Card Receiver, 3M Cogent, address for 3M Cogent will be provided once you finish registering online.

    For Virginia:

  • No trainings are scheduled at this time.

  • The following are presentation slides from seminars hosted by Franconia Mennonite Conference and some other organizations who deal directly with child protection and may hold additional information that is helpful to your congregation:

    Child Protection Resources
    • Mandated Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse – Knowing Your Role – handout from the Mandated Reporter Training
    • Child Protection Seminar Slides – June 2015 EDC/FMC Seminar with Ms. Mundy from NOVA.
    • Dove’s NestDove’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:
    • Body and Soul: Healthy Sexuality and the People of God (Faith & Life Resources, 2010).
    •  Cooper-White, Pamela. The Cry of Tamar, Violence against Women and the Church’s Response, 2nd edition. Fortress Press, 2012.
    • Fortune, Marie M. Sexual Violence, The Sin Revisited. The Pilgrim Press, 2005
    • 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.
    • Jung, Patricia Beattie and Darryl W. Stephens, eds. Professional Sexual Ethics: A Holistic Ministry Approach.Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013.
    • McCintock, Karen A. Preventing sexual abuse in congregations: A resource for leaders. The Alban Institute, 2004.
    • Melton, Joy Thornburg. Safe Sanctuaries for Ministers: Reducing the Risk of Abuse in the Church. Discipleship Resources, 2008.
    • Melton, Joy Thornburg. Safe Sanctuaries for Ministers: Reducing the risk of abuse in the church for children and youth. Discipleship Resources, 2008.
    • Mennonite Quarterly Review, January 2015.
    • Smith, Andrea. Sexual Violence and American INdian Genocide. South End Press, 2005.
    • Understanding Sexual abuse by a church leader or caregiver, 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.