Assembly Mennonite Church
With Mennonite Church USA, Central District Conference and consistent with our commitments in the Privileges of the Child, Assembly Mennonite Church covenants to be a safe place for all of God’s people. Given the preciousness of our children and youth and their potential vulnerability to abuse, we covenant for their safety and full participation in our community.
Out of our commitment to love and care for all of God’s creation we make this covenant to our children, youth, adults, families and community.
Commonly Accepted Principles of Healthy Boundaries and Safe Church
- Adults have more power than Children and Youth.
- Clergy have more power than people with whom they have a pastoral relationship.
We covenant to:
- Provide a six-month period in which we commit to getting to know new members and attendees before asking them to teach Sunday school, supervise childcare, or participate on the elder care team. Ensure that all those working with children sign a Memo of Understanding annually (that memo can be found here).
- Provide a one year period in which we commit to getting to know new members and attendees before asking them to be a mentor, junior youth leader or youth coordinator. As adults with high responsibility and the opportunity to be one on one with children we will require a criminal background check every four years. Ensure parents and mentors review these guidelines annually by signing the Mentor-Mentee agreement.
- Abide by the two-adult rule: two approved adults will be present during any church activity involving minors. Preferably these adults would not be related. It is understood that those with completed background checks may need to be one on one with youth, though they should make every attempt to limit one on one contact.
- Ensure that any person under 18 who works with children and/or youth is supervised by or paired with someone older than 21.
- Provide a safe space by requiring that all Sunday School classrooms and offices have windows in the doors.
- Cultivate an “open door” culture in which parents are encouraged at any time to drop-in and observe or participate in activities.
- Use a Church Nursery sign in procedure to clearly identify who is responsible for the child and who the child is being released to.
- Use appropriate discipline and expressions of affection.
- Use of appropriate hugs and touches that are reassuring or comforting.
- Use warm, caring verbal comments, not demeaning or blaming comments, verbal put downs or corporal punishment.
- Provide a public setting when possible for one-to-one interactions or pastoral contacts, especially with youth. When an office or private meeting is most appropriate, the door will remain open, the meeting will take place in a room where the individuals are visible through a window in the door, and/or others will be informed in advance of the meeting.
- Provide guidelines for attendance and participation by those who are credibly accused of sexual misconduct.
- Provide an annual training for all adults in the congregation regarding this policy. Provide an annual information and education for children that is age appropriate and helps them to understand boundaries and respectful relationships.
- Report incidents of abuse to the state authorities such as police and/or children’s services. See Appendix 1 for information on reporting abuse outside the congregation. Guidelines for reporting harassment and abuse within the congregation can be found here.
- Follow the recommendations of the Digital Communications policy.
- Monitor our implementation of this Covenant. The Pastor of Congregational Life will ensure an annual review with leadership group, and small group reps will be given a description of the steps to be taken when alleged abuse occurs, including the legal reporting guidelines.