Safe Sanctuaries Background Checks

The North Alabama Conference Safe Sanctuaries Policy mandates that staff and volunteers who work with minors undergo a background check prior to serving and at least every three years after. For the purposes of Safe Sanctuary policy, background checks include a social security trace, a state background check, a national criminal check and sex offender check (instant criminal). To facilitate this process at both the Conference and the local church level, the North Alabama Conference has established an agreement with Employment Screening Services, a Birmingham-based provider of background checks.

ESS Branch Accounts for Churches/Ministries

The recommended method for churches to process background checks is using a branch account, which are available to any church or ministry in the North Alabama Conference at no additional cost. Branch accounts feature Conference pricing ($12 per background check for most individuals) and include the required background checks according to Safe Sanctuary policy. Churches with branch accounts receive their own login to ESS's system, which can be used to send requests for background checks to applicants, manually enter details from paper forms, and receive and store the results of checks run on the branch account. In addition, branch accounts allow churches to consolidate billing for background checks by allowing individuals to pay for their own using a credit card or by billing the church on a monthly basis.

To create a branch account for your church or ministry, click here. Please allow up to 3 business days (Monday through Thursday) for your account to be created.

For more information, or for questions about branch accounts, contact the Connectional Ministries Office at (205) 226-7963.


Changes to Branch Account Users

We will gladly process changes to users listed on a branch account. Please note that requested changes must be received from either an individual currently listed on the branch account as an administrator (using the email address listed in their user profile on the branch account) or clergy currently appointed to the church from their North Alabama Conference email address. 

Did you know? Users on new branch accounts are set up as administrators for the branch and can add or edit users without contacting the Conference! To add or edit a user, log in to ESS and visit the "User Info" section under the "My Account" tab.


Changes to Services on Branch Accounts

New branch accounts, by default, have access to the standard North Alabama Conference screening package, which includes a social security trace, State of Alabama criminal check, and national/multijurisdictional criminal check (including sex offender registries). However, additional checks, including credit and MVR checks, can be requested on a branch by contacting ESS.


Submitting Background Check Consent Forms

All background check consent forms should be submitted directly to ESS. Consent forms and other related items sent to the Conference office will not be accepted.

Processing Background Checks on Conference Account

The preferred method for completing background checks is to use a branch account. There is no charge for churches to establish a branch account, and doing so allows for faster and easier processing of background checks. Additionally, establishing a branch account ensures that results of checks are routed correctly and in a timely manner. Please see above for more details on establishing a branch account.

In limited circumstances, it may be possible to process a check using the master Conference account. If for some reason you are unwilling or unable to establish a branch account, please contact Kiki Terry at or (205) 226-7953. Note that a surcharge may be assessed for checks processed using the Conference account.


Requesting Copies of Checks Processed Using the Conference Account

If you have processed a background check using the Conference account and have not received results or need to request additional copies of results, please complete the form found by clicking here. Please note the following if requesting release of background checks:

  • Background checks can only be released when the check was run under the Conference account. Checks run under branch accounts should be requested from the church directly. Churches who did not receive results should contact ESS directly for assistance.
  • The form must include an original signature (signature stamps will not be accepted) and one of the following:
    • a copy of a current photo ID including a signature
      • Please note that the name and date of birth on the request form and the ID must match exactly the name on the background check. If the applicant's name has been legally changed within the previous three months, the request will be processed if accompanied by proof of legal name change (i.e. a marriage license or court order) 
    • an original, notarized release form to the Office of Connectional Ministries and Leadership Development (note that a notarized form must be mailed).
  • Effective September 1, 2016, individuals are limited to requesting results for up to three checks per quarter, with a maximum of 12 requests per calendar year.  
  • These requests may take up to 30 days to process, and the Office of Connectional Ministries and Leadership Development reserves the right to withhold results until verification that the appropriate consent to release results has been obtained.
  • Completed forms may be sent via one of the following methods:
    • By email:
    • By fax: (205) 226-7957
    • By mail or in person:
      Office of Connectional Ministries and Leadership Development
      ATTN: John Fleischauer
      898 Arkadelphia Rd.
      Birmingham, AL 35204

About ESS

Background checks are provided for the Conference by Employment Screening Services. ESS is a Birmingham-based company proven to provide quality background checks quickly returned at a reasonable cost. Shelia Benson is the executive director of Employment Screening Service, a woman-owned small business in Birmingham. The firm offers a full menu of background screening services including criminal checks, business credit reports, credit checks, federal civil records, drug testing, motor vehicle checks, education, employment and reference verifications, peer credit reports, professional license verifications, Social Security number trace, worker's compensation reports, Office of the Inspector General, sex offender checks and electronic fingerprinting. Business hours are Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Call 866-859-0143 or visit
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