THE CHURCH SHOULD BE A SAFE PLACE WHERE PEOPLE CAN WORSHIP, LEARN, WORK, LOVE, AND RECEIVE CARE IN A MANNER THAT IS FREE FROM SEXUAL MISCONDUCT.
Early in the life of the ELCA, this church expressed clearly its intention to take whatever measures it could to help prevent sexual abuse and misconduct within the ELCA. In other words, the church is called to be a safe place. All forms of sexual misbehavior by ministers and lay leaders with church members are unacceptable within the life of the church.
REPORTING CHILD ABUSE
Report child abuse by calling the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-482-5964 or the Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-522-3511. Professionals who come into contact with children (i.e., mandated reporters) are required to report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of that person or of their agency, institution or organization is an abused child. However, any person may report suspected abuse. All mandated reporters must submit their name and contact information when making a report. Other members of the community who report can choose to remain anonymous.
REPORTING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Sexual misconduct committed by congregational employees should be reported to the pastor, council president, or other congregational officer. Congregations are encouraged to have policies in place for addressing allegations against church staff and to respond with compassion and care to anyone reporting abuse by ministers or lay leaders.
This synod has responsibility for addressing allegations of minister sexual abuse, administering appropriate discipline, and responding to those who have been harmed. Procedures and policies in place in the synods of this church provide for compassionate and resolute response to those wounded by minister sexual misconduct, and appropriate discipline for those who offend.
Report to the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod if this synod is a) where the misconduct occurred; b) where the rostered minister (clergy or deacon) is currently located; or c) where the victim is currently located.
THE FOLLOWING SYNOD STAFF ARE AVAILABLE TO RECEIVE REPORTS:
You may also call the ELCA Consultant for Prevention of Sexual Misconduct at 773-380-2568, email@example.com.
WHAT IS MISCONDUCT?
Sexual misconduct: Federal and state laws make distinctions among various types of sexual misconduct, such as “sexual harassment,” “sexual abuse,” and “sexual assault.” Similarly, the governing documents of the ELCA define what types of sexual misconduct can result in a pastor or other rostered person facing ecclesiastical discipline. These distinctions should not concern a person who is troubled about the sexual conduct of a pastor or rostered layperson. This church is concerned about all types of sexual misconduct by these individuals, regardless of whether or how the misconduct is characterized by the law or by the governing documents of the ELCA.
Any time a minister uses his or her position in the church for personal sexual gratification it is a misuse of the pastoral office and a betrayal of the nature of the pastoral relationship. Any sexual misconduct committed by a rostered church leader should be reported to the appropriate synod, including, but not limited to, any sexual contact between the rostered person and a congregant, counselee, employee or volunteer. It should be noted that the synod may not be able to assume primary responsibility for addressing all allegations of sexual misconduct. For example, law enforcement authorities would have responsibility for investigating and addressing criminal allegations, while congregations would have to deal with accusations of sexual harassment by the congregation's employees. Nevertheless, the appropriate synod office should be notified of all cases of inappropriate sexual behavior in the congregation.
Any suspected sexual contact with a minor must be reported to the appropriate governmental agency as required by state laws concerning reporting of child abuse.
What parishioners can do to understand and prevent clergy sexual abuse.
Healthy relationships of trust and respect between laity and clergy are essential for carrying out the mission of the church. This resource can assist in creating and maintaining strong, creative and healthy relationships of integrity and safety, for the sake of our common ministry to the gospel of Christ Jesus and to the people of God.
A resource to assist synodical leaders and local congregations. This resource is offered to synodical bishops and their staffs, to other clergy and lay leaders, interims and “after pastors,” including those who will provide on-site leadership for a period of time in congregations after the incidence of clergy sexual abuse.
A resource of shared learning of synods, seminaries, congregations, colleges, social ministry organizations and the churchwide expression.