While looking for the current ABC District handbook I found a June 2014 version of the ABC District’s Abuse Prevention Manual. I’m posting excerpts here without comment as I think anyone that compares the policy as written – particularly the “Aftercare” section – to District’s actions over the past two decades will reach the same inescapable conclusion.
(If the first link doesn’t work, here’s a link to a backup copy.)
REASONS FOR CONCERN ABOUT PREVENTION OF ABUSE IN THE CHURCH
Our Love of God
1. Exodus 20:1-17
How do the Ten Commandments serve as a guide to the Christian life?
How does living a holy life relate to issues of abuse within the congregation?
Which commandments and meanings (Small Catechism) speak to the Christian
responsibility to prevent abuse?
2. 1 John 4:11
What is our responsibility to each other according to John?
1 Corinthians 6:13-20
What do these passages say about our relationship to our neighbours and the
protection of his own God created body?
3. Galatians 6:10
As this passage relates to abuse against our neighbour what help should we provide especially for fellow believers? As it relates to the 8th Commandment and allegations of abuse?
4. Matthew 18:15-18
In what manner should this passage direct our conduct under this abuse policy?
Love for Neighbour
1. Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:4, John 15:12, 1 Peter 5:2,3 (Large Catechism, 4th
What office is established by this Commandment?
What responsibility comes with this office?
What special injunctions are given to those who hold the office?
How are children to be viewed?
What view should these positions of trust take toward issues of abuse and self gratification?
What should the pastor’s office be in relation to those in his care?
2. Exodus 20:13, Proverbs 13:24, Matthew 5:21-22, Acts 10:34, Galatians 3:28
What does the 5th Commandment and meaning say regarding issues of protection against abuse?
What is the difference between physical discipline and abuse?
How does God’s view of people reflect in our actions toward others? Do threats,
taunting, degradation or discrimination have a place among believers? Can church discipline be considered abusive?
3. Ephesians 5:3-5, Exodus 20:14
What does the Sixth Commandment and its meaning have to say about matters of sexual abuse?
Remember: No touching of any kind is appropriate if it is unwanted. How does this principle impact our responsibility as volunteers/employees?
4. Ephesians 4:25, Exodus 20:16
Under the 8th Commandment and its meaning, what positive steps are we enjoined to take toward allegations of abuse against a neighbour?
May we report issues of suspected abuse to authorities?
Complaint Procedures Guidelines
If you have been abused, or suspect that someone in your congregation is being abused, it is essential that this be reported. Abuse thrives when it goes unnoticed or unreported. It will not stop on its own. Remember that the goal for reporting abuse is four-fold:
1. to stop the abuse and prevent further incidents;
2. to begin the healing process for the victim;
3. to allow the perpetrator (if the allegations are true) to be brought to repentance and reconciliation;
4. to allow for the process of justice if the charges are of a criminal nature.
When an incident of abuse has occurred, there are many factors to consider beginning healing in the church.
The victim and their family require a great amount of care and support.
They should be made aware that the congregation does not blame them for what has happened and that their church family will assist them in bearing the burdens created.
In the case of a child, a great deal of counseling and support can be provided through the local child protection agency. They will also have other resources for the family to access counseling and any other assistance needed. Often a person’s health insurance carrier will have psychological and emotional counsel available.
For adults, the church, community information centre or hospital may have a directory of local counseling agencies. Many Christian agencies (including Catholic Family Services in many areas) provide counseling services on an “ability to pay” basis. It is important to encourage the victim and their family to talk about what happened with a trusted professional so they can begin the healing process.
Within the congregation, information should be given honestly and shared on a need to know basis.
There will be a great deal of shock, denial and anger, which must be dealt with in a loving and understanding manner. Professional assistance may be required to assist the members to understand and accept what has happened, to care for the victim and even to acknowledge the sin and work towards the repentance and forgiveness of the abuser.
If the abuse has been of a criminal nature, the abuser will be dealt with first by legal authorities.
No matter what the charge, it is important to remember that the goal within the church should be to bring the perpetrator to repentance. The abuser should not be abandoned by his or her Christian family, (even as God does not abandon them) even if they can no longer attend the church.
The health and well-being of the congregation will depend a great deal on the handling of the situation. Prayer for God’s guidance, loving concern from the staff and leaders of the church, and professional assistance will help facilitate this healing process.