Safe Church

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Rhode Island recognize the potential for harm when a priest, lay employee or volunteer engages in sexual exploitation, harassment or abuse in one of our churches or institutions. Thus, we, like most Episcopal dioceses, offer training and resources that include suggestions for safe ways of interacting with children, youth and adults in the church.

We also provide “Intake Officers” who are trained to receive any allegations or concerns. Email to ask for a conversation with one of the Intake Officers.

Safe Church Training

Safe Church Training Safe Church Trainingis a required certification program for clergy, all licensed lay ministers including Licensed Eucharistic Visitors, vestry/bishop’s committee members, employees, and those who volunteer in programs for children and youth. This training is also recommended for all lay people in leadership positions. The program is grounded in our call to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being. The clergy and vestries of each individual church are responsible for oversight of their parishioners and staff who need to take the training.  

Contact your parish priest or parish administrator for access to the training or access the training using the steps below. Safe Church training is offered primarily as an online program.  In-person trainings are also offered several times a year at locations around the diocese. Watch for notices in the diocesan e-newsletter or speak to diocesan administrator Mary Ann Mello to learn when the next in-person training will be held. 

To start your online training:

Step 1: Use this information to begin your online training
1. Go to this Armatus Praesidium website 
2. Enter the registration code: dioRI401
3. Fill out the form and click the link to enroll. Choose your parish from the organization drop down menu.
4. Print the page or write down your user login and password for future reference.
5. To begin taking training immediately, click the link or follow the instructions below to login later.

Step 2: Use this information to log in:
1. Go to Armatus Praesidim log in page
2. Enter your login and password.
3. Click the orange LOGIN button.
4. On the next page, scroll down the page a bit until you see the courses listed.
5. Click the title of the course to open and view it.


There are SIX modules required for Initial Basic Training:

  1. Meet Sam
  2. It Happened to Me
  3. Keeping your Church Safe
  4. Safeguarding God’s People: Preventing Sexual Exploitation in Communities Faith – For Congregations
  5. Social Media
  6. Your Policies

There are FOUR modules required for Refresher Training:
(Basic Safe Church Training expires after three years. To update your training to keep in compliance, take the courses below)

  1. Abuse Prevention Refresher
  2. Recognizing Abuse and Exploitation in Elder Serving Programs
  3. Social Media
  4. Your Policies

*The Safe Church Self Audit due date has been changed to December 31, 2021 at the recommendation of the Bishop and with the approval of Diocesan Council.  The deadline was extended to allow churches flexibility while they are reopening this summer.

Mandated Reporting

All persons in Rhode Island are required by law (RIGL 40-11-3) to report known or suspected
cases of child abuse and/or neglect to the Department within 24 hours of becoming aware of such
abuse/neglect. Reports of abuse and neglect originate from several sources including the public,
courts, hospitals, police departments, parents, and relatives as well as other sources.

Child Protective Service-Rhode Island

CPS operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Investigators receive and screen reports of
suspected abuse and neglect on the Department’s hotline 1-800-RI-CHILD (1-800-742-4453)
and conduct associated investigations, as needed.

Abuse and Elder Law Information Resources

Rhode Island law requires any person who has reasonable cause to believe that an elderly
person has been abused to report it to the Office of Healthy Aging (OHA). Failure to
report abuse of a person 60 or older can result in a fine of up to $1,000. Report suspicion
of Elder Abuse and Self Neglect to OHA 401-462-0555.
If a Senior needs help getting out of an abusive home contact the Saint Elizabeth’ s Haven
for Elder Justice Program 401-739-2844 x36

Reporting an incident of misconduct

To report an incident of misconduct by a lay volunteer or church employee in a parish, in addition to contacting any relevant civil authorities, please contact the priest of the parish.

To report an allegation of  misconduct by a clergy person, in addition to contacting any relevant civil authorities (if this constitutes an illegal action), please contact either of the diocesan Intake Officers, who are responsible for beginning the Church’s own investigation process, or contact the Canon to the Ordinary.

Email to ask for a conversation with one of the Intake Officers.

You may also contact The Rev. Canon Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, Canon to the Ordinary at or call 401-274-4500 or 401-480-8651 (cell). She serves as the Case Manager and will refer your case to one of the Intake Officers.