First Baptist Church, Huntsville, AL
Saturday, September 20, 2014

Q & A for FBCHSV Safekeeping Policies & Procedures

Who must be screened in order to serve in the ministries and programs of First Baptist Church?

In short, all volunteers with preschoolers, children, and youth must be screened.  This includes all persons working in Sunday School, missions education, music education, worship care, and all special events associated with the preschool, children, and youth ministries.  Further, all current and future employees of First Baptist Church, Huntsville, must be screened.

Questions about The Screening of Volunteers

How long do I have to be a member of First Baptist before I can apply for volunteer service?
All prospective volunteers shall have been a member of First Baptist Church, Huntsville, for at least six (6) months prior to the commencement of the volunteer service.  Exceptions to this rule may be made on an individual basis only by the minister in a specified ministry area with the approval of the Executive Pastor.

What is the process for screening volunteers?

All current workers with preschoolers, children, and youth, and those prospective applicants for these positions shall:

1.Complete an online application with our background screening service. If you prefer to fill out the paper version of this form, you may obtain this form in the finance office from our Safekeeping Processor. Upon completing the paper form, your data will be entered into the online application.  If you have questions, call our Safekeeping Processor in the Church Office at 256-428-9400. This application includes a statement that you must sign indicating that you have read and understand these policies and agree to follow these policies.

2.As part of the application, you will sign a consent authorization for a Criminal Background Check when completing the online application.

All documentation must be completed and submitted. Once submitted, our Safekeeping Processor in the Church Office will begin processing the application with our background screening service, Protect My Ministry. 

Will I be requested to provide references? You will be asked to provide the name, email address, mailing address, telephone numbers, and the nature of your association with at least three references.  These references may not be former employers or relatives. 

Reference Background Checks will be conducted on all applicants through email primarily so please include the email address of each reference. If no email address is given, telephone calls, interviews with personal references, and/or maill response using a reference contact form will be used.  Background checks will be conducted by the Safekeeping Processor in our church office. Confidentiality will be maintained.  All records will be kept under lock and key in a secure area of the church offices.

Will I be able to see the forms completed by my references? You may choose to review the information provided by your references.

What is a Criminal Records Background Check? A Criminal Background Check is a formal screening process used to determine if a prospective volunteer has had past criminal convictions. Based on where the applicant has lived, this may be a one-county criminal background check or several and may include a state criminal background check if the applicant has lived in several counties of the same state. Our check will also include a scan of the National Sex Offender Registry. 

Will all volunteers undergo a Criminal Records Background Check? Most volunteer positions will undergo a Criminal Records Background Check.  Regardless, the church reserves the right to conduct a Criminal Records Background Check at any point on any worker.  Criminal Records Background Checks are required for all volunteers who will be chaperoning for overnight activities.  This requirement relates to the high degree of risk and responsibility involved in these activities.

How will I know if and when I have been approved for volunteer service? If no questionable responses are received, either from the applicant or from the related background check, the church screening consultant will notify you by email and will place your name on a list of approved workers.  The Executive Pastor will also be notified of all approved workers.  This list of approved workers will then be made available to the appropriate persons responsible for recruiting volunteer workers.

What happens if the screening process surfaces some question about my suitability for volunteer service? The name of any applicant with a questionable response(s) or a questionable background check(s) will be forwarded to the Executive Pastor.  The Executive Pastor will then confer with the minister responsible for the activities of the volunteer applicant concerning the matter(s) under question, known mitigating factors, and approaches to pastoral care for the applicant in dealing with the issues under question.  The Executive Pastor or conferring minister will contact the applicant for conversation concerning the questionable response(s) and/or background information.  Additional pastoral and/or counseling resources will be made available to the applicant, as needed.  Based on the conversation between the applicant and, conferring minister or other counselor, the applicant is either returned to the application process, engaged in further counseling, or disapproved for working with preschoolers, children, or youth.

What sort of situations would prohibit a person from serving as a volunteer with preschoolers, children, and youth at First Baptist Church?

Applicants will not be permitted to work with preschoolers, children, or youth in any church sponsored function if:
1.The applicant has been convicted, pleaded guilty, or otherwise adjudicated guilty of sexual or physical abuse.
2.The applicant has pending charges of sexual or physical abuse, other sex related offenses or other crimes of violence

What types of situations would require additional screening before a person might be allowed to serve as a volunteer at First Baptist Church? Applicants may not be automatically prohibited from working with children or youth, but will be subject to further screening including, but not limited to, a criminal records check and meeting with an appropriate minister responsible for the activities of the volunteer applicant before his/her application can be considered further if:
1. The applicant has been previously charged with, but acquitted, of sexual or physical abuse or other sex related offenses, or has a past history of sexual or criminal misconduct.
2. The applicant provides other affirmative responses or leaves the responses blank on “Section B, Legal Questionnaire” on the Leadership Information form.

What happens if I have experienced sexual or physical abuse in the past?  Am I automatically excluded from volunteer service? Every person who desires to work with preschoolers, children or youth will be asked if they experienced sexual or physical abuse as a child.  An alarming percentage of convicted child abusers were themselves abused as children.  This question is asked, both out of the need to safeguard children under the church’s care, and to help guide adults with such experiences toward personal and spiritual healing and wholeness.  The ministerial staff of First Baptist Church, Huntsville, as well as counselors and therapists with special expertise in this field, are available should applicants wish further conversation to deal with past experiences of abuse.

Persons who have experienced past sexual or physical abuse will not automatically be excluded from volunteer service.  If an applicant indicates on the Leadership Information Form that he or she has experienced such abuse, the Executive Pastor and/or the appropriate age-group minister will contact the applicant to arrange for further conversation.  Based on this conversation, the applicant may be:
1. Returned to the application process,
2. Referred for pastoral care and/or counseling, or
3. Disapproved for service


Questions about The Screening of Employees

What is the screening process for employees of First Baptist, Huntsville? Every applicant for any paid position of First Baptist Church, Huntsville shall complete an Employment Application Form, and a consent form for a Reference Background Check and Criminal Records Background Check.  The applicant will not be considered for employment by the church if these forms are not completed. 

All information gathered from the employment application and related background checks will be held in strict confidence.  Records will be kept under lock and key in a secure area of the church offices.  No person shall be employed before the Personnel Committee and/or staff supervisor responsible for hiring that position has received and reviewed the applicant’s completed employment application and the written results from the background check of the applicant.

No person who has been convicted, pleaded guilty, or otherwise adjudicated guilty of sexual or physical abuse or other sex related offenses, will be permitted to work at First Baptist Church, Huntsville, in any capacity. No person with pending charges of sexual or physical abuse or other sex related offenses, will be permitted to work at the church in any capacity.  Anyone who has been previously charged with, but acquitted of, sexual or physical abuse, other sex related offenses, or a past history of sexual or criminal misconduct will be subject to further screening.  Victims of child sexual abuse will also be subject to further screening.