Practicing Discernment: Grace Church in Allen, Texas’ Child Protection Policy

This is a discernment exercise for those of you with children. In this post contains the child safety policy for Joel Walter’s Grace Church in Allen, Texas. Grace is an Evangelical Free Church in the Texas and Oklahoma District. Study the documents and discuss them with this one question in mind: Would you want your child involved in this church? 

“Intelligence is something we are born with. Thinking is a skill that must be learned.”

Edward De Bono

“To live is to think.”

Marcus Cicero

That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.

Acts 17:10-12

I have already used Grace Church in Allen, Texas for another discernment post. Grace Church is an Evangelical Free Church in the Texas and Oklahoma District which is led by Bob Rowley. Today we are going back to Grace Church to look at another area that I believe needs some analysis. 

Let me say this to all of you reading this post. I write about the EFCA and write about both the good and the bad. Some blogs just focus on the good, others focus on nothing but the bad. I am in the middle realizing that the bad news needs to be discussed and shared. However, I also believe that when the EFCA does something right they should be commended. The EFCA as an organization is struggling with both I would suggest. It has some incredible talent and amazing pastors, then it also has some difficult churches and issues. However, one of my biggest fears in writing about the EFCA is that in the course of time I will learn about child sex abuse problems. This blog will go where the issues go, but I hope that child sex abuse is not a major problem in the EFCA. If it is, then this blog will write about it. 

Today’s post is an examination of the child safety policy at Grace Church which is led by Joel Walters. Here is my question to you…is the child safety policy in this church in Texas strong enough? Is the background check detailed enough? Is their understanding of child sex abuse solid or does this church have problems. I want you to read through and study these documents listed below and ask this one question. Would you want your child to be involved in this church? That’s it guys, know that I love you. 


5 thoughts on “Practicing Discernment: Grace Church in Allen, Texas’ Child Protection Policy

  1. I read through the first part of this and it looks like they are trying for a better standard than usual. The two adults required for every class rule is good, as is the emphasis on safety and reporting. While I’m seeing reference checks required, and forms completed for background checks, I’m not actually seeing a requirement to do the background checks, which bothers me somewhat. When I taught RE at the local UU a few years back, they background checked everybody, and had the two adult rule on top of it, just to be safe.

    While I would not have wanted my children to attend any Christian sunday school, it looks like this is safe enough for them to have visited with a friend if they had wanted to.


  2. Sorry, Eagle, I couldn’t find the date stamps. But then, it was difficult for me to keep track of what I had already read, vs. not read, so maybe I just missed it.

    With my own background in a Presbyterian (USA) church in which we had a sexual predator removed from leadership in our Student Ministries (Jr High – College) and in which the policies then became rather stringent, I can say as an adult volunteer after I had graduated from college that the rule changed to two leaders present at all times, and we also had I think an opt-in permission form for photography / audiovisual recordings of the kids enjoying the activities. These are I think for the best, although I am glad that we had more flexibility when I was a youth with them.

    Not sure about the thoroughness of the background check in the documentation here.

    The needing only verbal permission for an adult to be with a youth off-campus…. I think that’s a bad idea that could end up a liability for the church. But, I’m not an attorney.

    As for a sign on the playground equipment: I’d consult an attorney, as not all wording is admissible in court if there is a trespass and injury.

    Having read some of this church’s policies, I’d recommend having their leaders / volunteers go through a training series like Ministry Safe or GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), in which they learn which warning signs to look for, at least in terms of sexual abuse. I also think that this church should be clearer about what it means to be a mandated reporter, and I think that reporting suspected child abuse should take precedence over church policy. CPS (Child Protective Services) investigators are supposed to be specifically-trained in professional investigative practices with children to determine whether the suspicion is a false alarm or confirmed. It should be up to secular child protective authorities and / or law enforcement — not church leaders who may not be as well-trained in this field — to make this determination.

    One thing that did bother me was a worker being expected to keep the door cracked when a child was using the bathroom. As a former public school teacher in Virginia (who completed her undergrad at Baylor University in Waco, TX), we generally weren’t even permitted in the child bathrooms (in Virginia public schools), let alone be expected to crack the door. If I were a kid, I’d find that a violation of my privacy — especially if the worker were of the opposite sex. It would make me rather uncomfortable, to be honest.

    I’m sure I missed a lot, but that’s what jumped out at me.

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  3. I think it is good that they do have a child care policy. And even more importantly on page 5 they said that all suspected child abuses must be reported to the Child Protective Services within 48 hours.

    But as you said the policy is quite updated and might not be considered seriously all that often. In fact when the policy was updated 12 years ago it has me worried. Who is monitoring it? Who is making sure these policies are being followed today?


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