Presentation on theme: "Safe Church Advisory Panel Process Overview. Why this Process? Allegations must be taken seriously! Provides a process to aid church councils in evaluating."— Presentation transcript:
Safe Church Advisory Panel Process Overview
Why this Process? Allegations must be taken seriously! Provides a process to aid church councils in evaluating an allegation Recognizes the deep wounding of abuse Avoids too-painful face-to-face meeting Prevents future harm & secondary wounding Expresses the Churchs desire for justice & healing
Why is Church Leader Misconduct So Wrong? A violation of role – there are expectations and trust associated with that role A misuse of authority and power – with power comes responsibility for how it is used Taking advantage of vulnerability – we are commanded to protect one another – 1 body An absence of meaningful consent – consent implies equality
One Who Has Been Abused It can happen to anyone – fight against the tendency to blame the one victimized Victim v. Survivor Consequences – intense, long-term Spiritual effects – shame, trust issues Healing – a process (cyclical, not linear) Needs – acceptance, opportunity to make own choices, a listening ear!
Church Leader Who Abuses Powerful & Feeling Powerless Characteristics – controlling, sense of entitlement, limited awareness, manipulative Grooming – make one feel important or special, develop dependence, sexualized behaviors gradually become more blatant Effects of disclosure – losses vs. gains Needs – Take responsibility; be accountable!
Effects on the Congregation The Climate – denial, tendency to hide anything unpleasant, authority structure, gender attitudes, lack of guidelines, etc… The Response to disclosure – intense, long- term feelings of betrayal, shock, anger, etc… Healing – time for grieving and processing Phases – precursor/secret, discovery/chaos, awareness/polarization, recovery/rebuilding, resolution/transformation
Convince Me! For each example, #1 - #4: Answer the question – What action(s) would you recommend in each situation Tell why you gave the answer you did – what considerations came into play
The Guidelines: Context Claimant – the one bringing the allegation must be an adult now Church Leader – defined by individual churches Ecclesiastical process – completely separate from criminal or legal processes – no lawyers! Definitions – Abuse v. Misconduct; physical and sexual rather than emotional or other Approved by Synod 1997; updated in 2010
The Process, Step by Step 1.Claimant requests panel from: Safe Church team Safe Church office Church council 2.Panel is chosen from specially trained Safe Church team members; advocate is offered 3.Panel chair schedules meeting with claimant Church or denominational representatives may observe (1-2 people)
The Process Continued 4.Panel meets with claimant (and advocate) to hear all information 5.Panel evaluates information: Veracity – more likely than not to be true Serious – requiring action 6.If panel determines allegation is likely and is serious, written charges are given and a meeting is requested with the accused
The Process Continued 7.Meeting is held with the accused to receive information 8.Panel re-evaluates allegation based on all information from both parties and writes a summary report 9.The panels report is formally brought to the executive committee 10. The council hears the report and decides what action(s) to take
The Process Continued 11. If council takes no action or action contrary to what is in the report, a copy of the report may be submitted to Church Visitors or the Classis Interim Committee for further action 12. The claimant and accused are notified in writing of the outcome of the panel and councils deliberation 13. Claimant or accused may appeal decision to classis
Important Considerations Adult v. Child – process is for adults w/ allegations against a church leader (CRC member); a different procedure exists when children are involved Confidentiality!!! – the guidelines are specific about maintaining appropriate confidentiality through each step of the process Legal liability – Churches should check with their legal counsel when adopting these guidelines (issues arise concerning confidentiality and misinformation, etc.)
Council: The Weak Link? Why the process so often fails: Lack of understanding about the power and control dynamic of misconduct Lack of knowledge about the devastating effects of misconduct Tendency to blame the claimant Tendency to deny and minimize – quick fix Fear – dont rock the boat
Pastoral Care The Role of the Safe Church Advocate -Support through entire process & beyond -A voice for the claimant -Even out power imbalance Support person for accused Response committee for church -Maintain confidentiality -Provide care for all parties Pastoral care and Restorative Justice -Aftercare -Providing a safe place to process
Restorative Justice The focus of restorative justice is to make things right again … Accountability, restitution, and healing of broken relationships are major goals of the churchs response to abuse. It is particularly in the area of restitution and healing that restorative justice principles and processes may be useful for responding to cases of abuse within the church. Abuse Victims Task Force Report – Synod 2010
Take Away/Discussion What especially stood out to you as we reviewed the Advisory Panel Process? What questions do you still have about the process? How or where do you see yourself fitting into the panel process? What do you think needs to happen to make sure that regional and/or classis teams are able to continue to offer the panel process to churches?