Because we love children and want to do all we can to ensure their safety and well-being, the Apostolic Faith organization has put in place the following guidelines for Sunday school personnel. All Sunday school workers, including department heads, teachers, and support staff, must be familiar with these procedures and agree to follow them.
Sunday school department leaders work under the direction of the Sunday school superintendent and/or pastor. Department leaders are responsible for the weekly operation of the Sunday school department, including the supervision of children, teachers, and support staff; program planning and implementation; and communication and parent relations.
Department leaders should discuss staffing needs and proposed changes regarding staff with the Sunday school superintendent.
All Apostolic Faith Sunday school teachers must be born-again Christians, have a clear understanding of Bible doctrines, and be living godly lives in accordance with Biblical teachings. They should be carefully selected based on their spiritual qualifications, experience, education, talents, and interpersonal skills.
We require Sunday school teachers to have been in regular attendance at our church for at least one year, and be at least sixteen years of age.
Prior to teaching, prospective teachers will be expected to:
These requirements must be completed and recorded in the church office before an applicant begins teaching in the Apostolic Faith Sunday school. Application and certification records will be kept on file for insurance purposes.
In addition, we recommend that all Sunday school personnel read the document “What You Can Do About Child Abuse,” published by the Oregon Department of Human Services, publication #DHS 9061. It is available at https://apps.state.or.us/Forms/Served/de9061.pdf.
Those who work in Apostolic Faith Sunday schools must also be prepared to fulfill on an ongoing basis any additional training or recertification requirements established by the organization.
Anyone who has ever been convicted of child abuse will not be allowed to work with children. Other criminal offenses may also disqualify an individual from serving as part of the Sunday school staff.
Those who have a role in Apostolic Faith Sunday schools are expected to:
Apostolic Faith Sunday schools use the curriculum published at the Portland headquarters. The schedule of lessons is determined annually, and materials are provided in advance of each quarter. Modifications to the provided schedule must be authorized by the Sunday school superintendent.
It is acceptable for teachers to incorporate visuals, object lessons, and supplementary props produced by other organizations into their class presentation, as long as the supplementary materials do not conflict with the Biblical doctrines and teachings upheld by this organization.
All curriculum materials are based on the King James Version of the Bible.
In the Apostolic Faith organization, the Sunday school year is from September through August. On the first Sunday after Labor Day, preschoolers and elementary-age children promote to the next age level. High school students are grouped by year or combined with other grade level(s), based upon the number of students enrolled in any given year. College and adult classes do not have a specific promotion date; students are allowed to move between appropriate classes based on where they feel most comfortable.
Sunday school department leaders work with the Sunday school superintendent to determine class size and composition, designate class assignments for teachers, and provide information regarding promoting students to the other department leaders.
A Sunday School Registration form must be filled in for every regular student in the Sunday school. This form includes transportation permission and a parent/guardian release of liability. Registration forms must be updated annually in order to ensure that changes regarding custodial parent/guardian and emergency contact numbers are kept current.
Complete and accurate attendance records must be kept of all children who attend each Sunday school session or Sunday school sponsored activity. Teachers should comply with the method of taking attendance established in each department. Sunday school department leaders or appointed staff members must also maintain a record of which teachers were present on any given Sunday.
Visitors who show up to ride on the van to Sunday school should be:
Sunday school teachers who take their classes on outings are expected to obtain a copy of the Procedure Guidelines for Youth Retreats/Outings/Overnight Excursions (available on the safety page of the church website), and follow those policies, including having each child fill out a Youth Activity Permission Form, and keeping a record of both attendees and supervising adults.
Some children have allergic conditions that could put them at risk in the Sunday school environment. The Sunday School Registration form provides a place for the parent/guardian to make the Sunday school staff aware of this.
A list of children with allergies should be posted in the Sunday school office, and teachers notified if a child in their class has allergic conditions. An asterisk by the child’s name on the class list can be used to identify children with allergies for the benefit of substitute teachers. It is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure that no child is offered a snack or treat that could cause an allergic reaction. A supply of allergy-appropriate snack options may be kept in the office for use by substitute teachers.
If a child has severe allergies, discuss with the parent/guardian an appropriate emergency action plan, as some allergic reactions can be life-threatening.
Sunday school departments should be open to receive children fifteen minutes prior to the announced time for Sunday school to begin.
Children under school age must be checked in and out of their Sunday school department. Teachers should release children only to a parent/guardian, or a third party approved by the parent/guardian. A staff member should monitor doorways during each scheduled Sunday school session or activity involving preschool-age children. No child should be allowed to leave the area without an escort.
Children are not to be taken out of the designated department area or immediate vicinity, except in the case of a pre-scheduled event or activity in another location or an emergency evacuation of the building.
Supplies and/or equipment should not be removed from the Sunday school areas without permission from the department leader or other authorized supervisor.
Teachers should make sure that any toys or equipment used in the classes are disinfected on a regular basis.
Parents have an open invitation to visit and observe all Apostolic Faith Sunday school programs and other activities in which their child is involved. However, parents who desire to be present on a regular basis must follow our behavioral guidelines.
When a church-sponsored event takes place away from the church premises, all safety policies and guidelines regarding children and youth must be followed.
All communication between church workers and minors must be appropriate, discreet, and positive. Children should never be addressed in a manner that could be construed as harsh, unreasonable, shaming, or derogatory in any way. No swearing or abusive language is tolerated.
Staff members and volunteers are prohibited from engaging in any private, sexually-oriented conversations with children, and are not permitted to discuss any sexually-explicit information about their own personal relationships, dating, or marriages with any child or youth.
The section of the Apostolic Faith Volunteer Handbook titled “Internet Safety” provides guidelines concerning electronic communication.
Guidance and Discipline Policy
All staff and volunteers who work with children in Apostolic Faith Church programs are expected to follow established procedures for dealing with behavioral concerns, and to treat every child with dignity and respect.
Discipline should be limited to corrective steps designed to retain the child’s self-worth while correcting inappropriate behavior.
When a child misbehaves, time-outs and other non-physical methods of behavior management are to be used for redirection. In employing a time-out, staff members should observe the following guidelines:
Staff members should discuss with their ministry supervisors any child who exhibits uncontrollable or unusual behavior. If chronic behavior concerns develop, the following actions may be implemented:
The following actions on the part of children in our care are not allowed, and could result in dismissal from church-sponsored activities and programs, though the pastor and ministry supervisor will work with the parent/guardian to determine the outcome that is best for the child and the program.
Physical Contact Policy
The Apostolic Faith organization has a physical contact policy which promotes positive, nurturing relationships with the young people in our care while offering protection as well. The following guidelines must be followed by anyone serving in church-sponsored activities for children and youth.
Restroom Assistance Policy
We recommend that children who participate in our early childhood programs be self-sufficient in toileting. However, there may be times when assistance is required. In such a case, the parent/guardian should be summoned to take care of their child’s needs if possible. If a parent/guardian is not present, the following procedure must be followed.
Children with special needs:
When children with special needs are enrolled in Sunday school, the department leader should discuss with the parent/guardian how toileting needs are to be handled. Any special instructions or authorizations should be noted in writing and kept with the Sunday school enrollment information.
The Apostolic Faith organization is committed to providing a safe, secure environment for children and their families, so we make every effort to safeguard the children who have been entrusted to our care. We have zero tolerance for abuse in church programs and activities. It is the responsibility of every staff member and volunteer in the Apostolic Faith work to act in the best interest of all children in every program.
While suspicions or knowledge of abuse are extremely difficult situations, we do not have discretion in this matter: we are legally obligated to immediately fulfill our responsibilities in accordance with state requirements. According to Oregon law (the state in which this organization is registered as a corporation), mandatory reporters include ministers and school teachers, along with law enforcement personnel and medical professionals. (Oregon Statutes: ORS 419B.005, ORS 12.117) For that reason, staff members or volunteers who observe any policy violations or suspected abuse, or receive an allegation of abuse, must immediately report the matter to their ministry supervisor or the pastor.
Definition of Abuse
In general, the term “child abuse” refers to any injury to a minor not caused by accident, which results in observable and substantial impairment of a child’s ability to function, including any injury which appears to be at variance with the explanation given of the injury. This includes sexual abuse or exploitation, negligence, maltreatment, or threatened harm to a child.
Staff members and volunteers should have a basic understanding of the characteristics of sexual predators and their behaviors in “grooming” a child for sexual abuse. Grooming is the process used by an abuser to select a child, win the child’s trust (and the trust of the child’s parent or “gatekeeper”), manipulate the child into sexual activity, and keep the child from disclosing the abuse.
The Apostolic Faith maintains a legally-approved risk management policy regarding children and youth. The following procedures are strictly enforced:
The Apostolic Faith reserves the right to immediately dismiss any volunteer or employee who is accused of violating the procedures and guidelines established by the organization.
Failure to report a prohibited act to the designated person is a violation of this policy and grounds for termination of employment of an employee of the church. Volunteers who fail to report a prohibited act may be restricted from participation in any church activities involving children or youth.
What to Report
Reasonable grounds to report suspected abuse exist if:
Steps in Reporting
If a child or young person discloses that he/she is being abused, or his/her actions suggest that abuse is occurring, staff and volunteers are instructed to take the following steps:
When the pastor receives credible information suggesting that abuse has occurred, he will immediately contact Children’s Services Division or the appropriate law enforcement agency in the state. He will also inform the Superintendent General of the allegation. The church will coordinate its internal investigation with the governmental entity involved.
A designated church representative will interact with legal counsel and insurance representatives, and will respond as directed to questions from the media concerning allegations of abuse or neglect. Other staff members should refrain from comment. During the investigation the alleged abuser will not participate in any church activities involving minors.
If the internal or external investigation results in credible evidence supporting the allegations, the pastor will impose appropriate disciplinary restrictions, which may range from dismissal from duty to barring from church attendance.
It is vital for all Sunday school personnel to be completely familiar with the Emergency Procedures section of the Volunteer Handbook, and be prepared to implement the proper response in the event of an emergency situation. They will be responsible for the safety of children entrusted to their care.
Accident or Medical Emergency
If a serious accident occurs to a child in the Sunday school department, or a medical emergency occurs, the teacher should notify the Sunday school department leader or superintendent. That individual will decide whether a CER or professional emergency help should be summoned.
The person who takes charge of the emergency should:
In an accident situation, Sunday school personnel should not accept liability or make any commitment to pay expenses. When the injured child has been appropriately cared for, the person who handled the situation should fill out an Accident/Incident Report form. He/she should also inform the pastor where and how the accident took place, and maintenance personnel if the accident was caused by a building or property defect.
A variety of situations could necessitate a building evacuation, but the most common type of emergency requiring evacuation is fire. A building evacuation is mandatory whenever a fire alarm sounds, and building occupants should leave the premises as quickly as possible. If the fire alarm sounds, Sunday school staff members should evacuate all children using the designated evacuation routes, which will be posted by the doors to the department.
At times, churches can be targets for demonstrations or disruptive actions. If demonstrators come onto church property for the purpose of intimidating, harassing, or threatening occupants or disrupting proceedings, CERs and ushers may need to assist in dealing with the situation. Sunday school teachers should be prepared to:
If the church is in a designated earthquake zone, particular care should be taken to ensure that Sunday school staff members know what to do in event of a quake.
If an earthquake occurs during Sunday school, teachers should be prepared to instruct the children in taking the following steps:
Once the quake has subsided, staff members should calm the children and treat injured people in the vicinity as their level of expertise permits, remembering that anyone with a serious injury should not be moved unless there is immediate danger. Keep the children in the area until a parent/guardian arrives for them.
If a violent intruder enters the building and a lockdown is instituted, Sunday school personnel should take the following steps:
Minor Injuries or Illness
First aid supplies should be available in the Sunday school departments for minor accidents. Use only ice, cold water compresses, and bandages as children may have allergies to Neosporin or other ointments. The parent/guardian of the injured child should be told of the incident when they come for their child after the service.
If a child becomes ill while in Sunday school, a staff member should remove the sick child from proximity to other children, while keeping him/her within sight and hearing distance of an adult. One staff member should notify the parent/guardian.
If a child is missing from the church premises while Sunday school is in progress, the Sunday school department leader should be notified. He/she will notify the head usher or CER. That individual will: