Sexual Misconduct Policy and Resource
Seeking to protect youth and other congregation members from sexual misconduct or harassment should be an aspect of each congregation’s ministry. No congregation is immune from the possibility of sexual misconduct but steps can be taken to address those concerns.
One step is to adopt policies and procedures addressing the issue of sexual misconduct and harassment in the church. One resource that provides useful sample policies and screening forms is from Church Mutual Insurance Company.
This resource provides a sample policy along with other screening procedures and forms that can assist congregations in becoming safer places. These materials include:
Some congregations have policies dealing solely with sexual misconduct relating to youth. Others have combined a policy addressing sexual misconduct with youth with one covering adults. What’s important is to have policies in place for both youth and adults in the congregation and then to implement such policies.
When drafting any policy, there need to be specific provisions that detail reporting of misconduct. For ELCA congregations, it is crucial to include in those policies requirements for reporting any allegations of misconduct by rostered leaders to the synod bishop. For example, such a provision could read:
Cases involving allegations of misconduct by a rostered member of the ordained clergy or rostered lay person in this congregation shall be promptly reported to the Bishop of the local synod. (Provide contact information such as synod name, bishop’s name, synod address, phone number and email)
See also: Report Misconduct
After congregations put policies in place, the leadership should, on a regular basis, review and update their existing policies as necessary. The above resources provide excellent tools to use for reviewing and possibly updating current policies.