CHARLESTOWN — St. Andrew Lutheran Church will host a Safe Church Training seminar focusing on child abuse, neglect issues and more on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
The seminar also includes models to maintain a safe atmosphere for children. The three-hour training will be led by Bill Barter, a New England Synod senior pastor from Portland, Maine, and a psychologist with a specialization in child abuse and forensics. “We take keeping kids safe very seriously,” said Pastor Lisa Stoen Hazelwood.
Hazelwood said the training would center around practical issues in child care, such as background checks for adults working with children and general guidelines regarding the ratio of adults to children for group events.
Hazelwood also said these trainings are a regular requirement for many denominations, and church clergy and lay leaders of all religions are invited to attend. Church council members, preschool staff and anyone else involved in church youth work are also invited.
Ongoing child abuse issues in the Roman Catholic church over the past decades have raised awareness about such problems, but they are not limited to any singular denomination, Hazelwood said.
“We’re aware that people who do these things, those that prey on children, are everywhere,” Hazelwood said. “They’re in our families, our churches and our communities.”
Hazelwood said because St. Andrew is well-known in the area for its activities and events with children, she feels this training will be especially beneficial for its staff.
“We just want to make sure we’re doing the smart thing,” she said.
The training session is free, but participants are asked to help cover the cost through a small donation. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by calling the church office at 401-322-0088 or by emailing standrewRIoffice@gmail.com. Approximately 50 participants have registered for the event, but there is no cap on participants.