Volunteers and Staff Supervising One Another
All volunteers and staff are responsible for confronting what they believe to be improper, irresponsible, or inappropriate behavior by other volunteers or staff with whom they are serving. This should be done privately and discreetly as soon as the opportunity allows; unless there is an immediate abusive threat or potential for injury, in which case the response should be immediate. Any improper, inappropriate, or irresponsible behavior must also be reported to a Pastor as soon as possible. If the behavior involves a Pastor, is should be reported to the Senior Minister; if it involves the Senior Minister, should be reported to the District Superintendent. In the case where the report of an incident is first made to a person of trust (Trustee, SPRC member, Christian Education Director, etc.), the expectation would be that the person of trust, familiar with these procedures, would then aid in the reporting to a Pastor, Senior Minister, or District Superintendent. *
Responding to Allegations of Abuse
If an incident of inappropriate behavior or abuse is suspected by, observed by, or disclosed to a volunteer, paid staff person, or any member of the church including a parent, that person shall immediately contact the Director of Christian Education, Youth Director, or Pastor. If a Pastor perpetrated the incident, the Senior Minister is to be contacted. If the incident involves the Senior Minister, the District Superintendent shall be contacted. The witness/confidant/parent first alerted to a situation is also encouraged to speak directly to the suspected individual, if the witness/confidant/parent feels capable of doing so. If a person chooses, he/she may also report the incident to the proper authorities.
After being contacted, the Director or Pastor will speak with the victim’s parents/guardians as soon as possible with or without the victim present. The Director or Pastor will create an Incident Report with all pertinent information, including: names of all people involved (including the ages of any children or youth), all witnesses (if any), the time and date of the incident, the particular event in which the incident occurred, the nature of the incident, and the name and signature of the person making the allegation.
If the accused is a Director or Pastor, the Senior Minister or District Superintendent will speak to the victim’s parents/guardians as soon as possible with or without the victim present and complete an Incident Report.
The next step is for the Director or Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) to talk with the accused expeditiously. The accused will be treated with care, dignity, and support. If the accused is a volunteer or staff person, he/she may be temporarily relieved of all duties and responsibilities (with pay when applicable) related to work with children or youth at the discretion of the Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) until the incident is resolved.
A report of the Director or Pastor interview with the accused stating the date and time of the interview, detailed notes of the interview, names of any witnesses, and detailed notes of subsequent interviews with those witnesses, including time and date, signed by all present, must be compiled by the Director or Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) and attached to the Incident Report.
If the Director or Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) discover that the alleged incident was a misunderstanding (a situation in which there was no harm done and misperceptions led to an escalation of emotions) and all agree that it was not an incident of abuse, the complaint will be dropped, and the accused immediately reinstated in ministry.
For cases in which the incident is not deemed abuse, but is considered a serious violation of trust, (an incident in which power or circumstance were mishandled by those in authority) appropriate administrative action will be taken with consideration for the type of violation, the potential for harm, the legality of the action, and the long-term effects of the violation. Administrative action can include behavioral reprimand to termination of volunteer or staff interaction with children or youth.
If a report is filed with the authorities, their personnel will carry out the investigation. After reporting the incident to the authorities, the insurance carrier for the congregation should also be contacted by the Pastor (Senior Minister or District Superintendent) along with the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees. In the event that an incident becomes public knowledge, any contact with the media shall be handled solely by a person designated by the Board of Trustees. Other persons associated with the church are encouraged to refer the media to the designated spokesperson if asked about the incident or individuals involved.
Care will be taken throughout this process to safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of all involved. The designated spokesperson will state our policy, outline the appropriate procedures being followed, and generally convey that the matter is under investigation and any further comments made prior to the conclusion of the investigation would be premature. Any further comments will be discussed and agreed upon by the Board of Trustees. The spokesperson will share the same information with the congregation in a timely fashion and using appropriate means to avoid rumors. *
Thank you for taking the time to read our policies. If you have any questions, please email our Director of Christian Education.