Building the Continuum

Supporting Formation and Vocation in The Episcopal Church

Update Model Policies for Preventing Sexual Misconduct

The Importance of Updating the Model Policies for Preventing Sexual Misconduct

Since the current Model Policies were developed in response to 2003:B008 of the 74th General Convention, the Episcopal Church and the cultures we serve in have experienced rapid evolutions in areas of critical concern for the mission of safeguarding all God’s people from harm, abuse, and misconduct. All ages, in every ministry, need clear model policies for a rapidly changing array of social media and digital communication methods. Furthermore, our public practice of being a church that openly welcomes LGBTQ persons has brought us new challenges that the current Model Policies do not address.

Following our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of all people, we are committed to offering ministries that safeguard human dignity and do no harm. The members of Forma have first-hand experience with the current Model Policies and want to celebrate the hard and dedicated service of the limited staff who are dedicated to these issues. We affirm the call in A073 to update and supplement the 2004 Model Policies. In particular we urgently recommend updates in areas such as:

  • Social media policies that can be applied to current ministry, ready to address the rapidly evolving digital media options.
  • Addressing the special concerns of mission trips, pilgrimages, and other overnight events involving travel.
  • Addressing the particular concerns of camps and conference centers.

We affirm the call to appoint an advisory committee to include practitioners from a wide variety of ministries and contexts. Furthermore, we would like to recommend that the 78th General Convention also call for the creation of model policies to support ministries that safeguard the dignity of our LGBTQ children, youth, participants, and leaders. The current model policies are ill equipped to safeguard LGBTQ persons in gracious ways.

Download Forma’s Position Paper Resolution A073 Forma Position to share with your bishops and deputies.

A073: Update Model Policies for Preventing Sexual Misconduct

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention direct that the 2004 Model Policies developed by The Church Insurance Agency Corporation for the Protection of Children and Youth from Abuse (the “2004 Model Policies”) be updated and supplemented to reflect the experience of the Church in using the 2004 Model Policies and to cover topics such as social media, mission trips, pilgrimages, camp and conference center programs, and other overnight events; and be it further

Resolved, That the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies, not later than September 30, 2015, jointly appoint a Special Task Group of five to seven persons with experience in the use and development of Model Policies for Preventing Sexual Misconduct to update, or to oversee the updating of, the 2004 Model Policies; and be it further

Resolved, That the updating and supplementing of the 2004 Model Policies be completed by March 31, 2016; and be it further Resolved, That the Updated Model Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth from Abuse to the Church (the “Updated Model Policies”) be promulgated after they are approved by the Special Task Group; and be it further

Resolved, That the Episcopal Church Center appoint a knowledgeable person to serve as a point of contact for dioceses to obtain information about complying with the 2004 Model Policies and the Updated Model Policies; and be it further Resolved, That not later than December 31, 2016, the Guidelines for the Protection of Children and Youth of each diocese conform to the Updated Model Policies with due regard to applicable local laws on the subject matters of the Updated Model Policies; and be it further

Resolved, That all dioceses annually confirm, in writing or by email, to a designated office in the Episcopal Church Center, that the Guidelines of the diocese conform to the Updated Model Policies.

Explanation

In the years since the 2004 Model Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth from Abuse were issued, there have been many new developments in both communications and ministry. The continued use of outdated policies may well be dangerous to God’s people and to The Episcopal Church and its dioceses and congregations. The 2004 Model Policies may be found here.

Accordingly, the Commission urges General Convention to require updating of the 2004 Model Policies to reflect the experience of the Church in using the 2004 Model Policies and to cover such matters as social media, mission trips, pilgrimages, camp and conference center programs, and other overnight events. This updating work would be overseen by a Special Task Group, and the work of the Special Task Group should be completed by March 31, 2016.

A knowledgeable person should be appointed to serve as a contact person for dioceses to consult regarding the 2004 Model Policies and the Updated Model Policies.

In addition, we urge General Convention to require all dioceses to confirm to the Episcopal Church Center in writing that the diocese has adopted Guidelines for the Protection of God’s People that conform to the Updated Model Policies. We do not urge that dioceses be required to report on the content of their Guidelines or on how they are implementing them, but merely that dioceses have guidelines are in place.

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