Response to a Participant Credibly Accused of Sexual Misconduct
Assembly Mennonite Church covenants to be a safe place for all of God’s people. In our faith community, we intend to enhance communication and deepen relationships. Out of our commitment to love and care for all of God’s creation we as a congregation covenant for the safety of our children, youth, adults, families and community.
As a reconciling faith community, Assembly Mennonite Church seeks to follow Jesus’ example by welcoming all who come our way, regardless of age, economic or social circumstances, ethnic background, gender, marital status, physical ability, race, or sexual orientation. ~ Welcome statement, adopted Dec. 1999
We intend to create a space for reconciliation for all while establishing a safe space by maintaining health boundaries. To this end, when a pastor or member of Assembly’s leadership is informed that an individual who has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct we commit to the following steps:
- The pastoral team will initiate a private interaction (including witnesses/support persons if appropriate) with the participant to seek direct information about the situation leading to, the nature of, and any resolution relating to the credible accusation.
- Gain the participant’s written approval to obtain a background check and release of related information.
- If the participant is on probation, identify their probation officer and ascertain the conditions that have been imposed. In some cases, a participant may not be legally allowed to attend church. If the probation officer says that the participant is free to attend church, ask the officer if he or she would recommend that the attendee be allowed to attend church, and if so, under what conditions. Obtain this information in writing, or, if that is not possible, document a detailed written account of the officer’s response.
- Inform the participant which persons in the church will be informed of the information about their offense and the method of dissemination and the content of the information will be shared with those persons.
- The participant’s right to attend church related events will be contingent on their signing a “conditional attendance agreement.”
- In some cases, Assembly leadership may (upon examination of the facts) determine that exclusion of the participant from all church related events is the only viable option. This will be a judgment call made by at least two leaders assigned to this task. This option is advisable if:
- (a) for any reason the conditional attendance option is not feasible or enforceable
- (b) if the participant’s crimes and/or misconduct have been so frequent or heinous that exclusion is the only appropriate option
- (c) one or more of the participant’s victims or a family member of the victim/s attends the church. This will be a judgment call made by the pastor and leadership group.
- In this case, the leadership will make an effort to assist the participant in seeking an appropriate, safe alternative experience in the surrounding community to address their needs for church participation. This may include sharing information with other area churches.
- If the conditional attendance agreement is broken, the pastor and leadership group will confer and determine next steps. The church’s insurer must be notified before any additional agreement is put in place which re-institutes the participant’s right to attendance to confirm that insurance coverage will not be affected.
- All documents related to this process will be stored in a locked cabinet in the church office.
Other documents related to this policy: