The Church has always recognized that those in ministry bear a particular responsibility to pattern their lives according to Jesus’ example. Bishops, priests, deacons, and lay leaders are regarded by the faithful and the world as examples of what a Christian life should be but, any moral offense by church ministers is especially hurtful because it betrays that trust committed to them by the Church to nurture and care for every member.
The Bishop of North Carolina, as chief pastor of the church in the Diocese of North Carolina, recognizes a sacred duty to insure that the church is a sanctuary, a safe haven for all people, providing an atmosphere of trust in which the Holy Spirit might work for healing, wholeness and growth. Misconduct prevention is a duty for all Christian people. It is not simply a matter of knowing and keeping a set of rules; it is a way of life and a set of practices which helps us learn and grow as disciples of Jesus Christ and ever more effective ministers in His church.
Misconduct Prevention Training is one way the Diocese maintains a safe environment by training lay and ordained leaders to understand the risks inherent in ministry and develop capacities to manage that risk. It may surprise some to learn that ministry includes risk, but it does. The fact that Jesus sent the disciples two by two is an ancient acknowledgement of the risk of ministry. Today, ministers in the church work with vulnerable people who are in need of help, advice, care and protection. Such work involves the risk that a recipient of ministry may accuse a minister or church leader of misconduct. A lack of awareness of the inherent power dynamics of ministry and of expectations people have when they seek the ministry of the church can leave ministers vulnerable to allegations of misconduct. Awareness of appropriate boundaries and a capacity for sound judgment, risk assessment, and working together to insure the safety of everyone in the church is an expectation of all who minister in the Diocese, lay and ordained.
POLICY ON MISCONDUCT
The Diocese of North Carolina works to ensure that an atmosphere of trust exists wherever the church exists. The Diocese strictly prohibits all forms of misconduct, including but not limited to sexual, financial, pastoral and legal misconduct; it prohibits all forms of harassment, including but not limited to harassment rooted in prejudice on the basis of race, culture, sex, gender or sexual orientation.
Misconduct also refers to any inappropriate use or abuse of power by a minister of the church (lay or ordained). Inappropriate use of power includes, but is not limited to:
- using a pastoral relationship to meet the personal needs (financial, sexual or otherwise) of the minister;
- using the resources of the church to meet personal needs of the minister;
- transgressing spiritual, personal, financial, or sexual boundaries while ministering;
- failing to uphold the standards and practices of The Episcopal Church or the Diocese;
- failing to recognize and maintain appropriate spiritual, personal, financial boundaries;
- exploiting the vulnerability of a person seeking ministry of the church; and
- in any way failing to intervene, report, and seek to stop misconduct or suspected misconduct.
POLICY ON SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
The Diocese of North Carolina strictly prohibits harassment and sexual misconduct by any ordained person, aspirant, postulant, candidate, or seminarian sponsored by or working in this Diocese; and by any lay employee or volunteer working in any capacity for the Diocese of North Carolina, any diocesan-related institution or any parish or other congregation in the Diocese of North Carolina.
Recognizing that sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment are all clear violations of the promise in the Baptismal Covenant to "respect the dignity of every human being," it is the responsibility of church workers to do all they can to make the church a safe environment. Activities that are harmful to others physically, emotionally, or spiritually are simply not permitted.
Sexual misconduct means any:
(1) Sexual abuse or sexual molestation of any person, including but not limited to, any sexual involvement or sexual contact with a person who is a minor or who is legally incompetent;
(2) Sexual harassment in a situation where there is an employment, mentor, or collegial relationship between the persons involved, including but not limited to:
- sexually-oriented language or humor;
- questions or comments about sexual behavior or preference unrelated to employment qualifications;
- undesired physical contact;
- inappropriate comments about physical appearance or clothing;
- repeated requests for social engagements;
(3) Sexual exploitation, including but not limited to the development of or the attempt to develop a sexual relationship between a cleric, employee, or volunteer and a person with whom he/ she has a pastoral relationship, whether or not there is apparent consent from the individual.
A pastoral relationship is a relationship between a cleric, employee, or volunteer and any person to whom such cleric, employee, or volunteer provides counseling, pastoral care,
spiritual direction, and/or spiritual guidance or from whom such cleric, employee, or volunteer has received confession and/or confidential or privileged information.
MISCONDUCT PREVENTION TRAINING
Misconduct Prevention Training is required of all clergy and all church employees. It is also intended for wardens, vestry members, lay Eucharistic visitors, pastoral visitors, youth leaders, confirmation sponsors, acolyte leaders, choir directors, church school teachers, and volunteers working in the parish. We understand Misconduct Prevention Training to be one practical way we live out our Baptismal Covenant and embody our vow to “protect the dignity of every human being.”
Misconduct Prevention Training is designed to increase awareness regarding the risks inherent in ministry, misconduct prevention, sexual misconduct prevention and abuse of power. It increases a minister’s capacity to recognize and prevent misconduct, abuse, and harassment, and offers learnings and best practices about ways to intervene when misconduct occurs. The training equips ministers of the church with ways of healing and rebuilding the body of Christ.
The Diocese has 2 levels of training to help provide the information and understanding required to work in the parish level.
- Level I: Online training (Approximately 1.5 hours) - Contact Amy Campbell for Level I training.
Online training is required for all Sunday school teachers, nursery volunteers and volunteers working with a partner fewer than three times per month. This training should be renewed online every year. Confirmation of course completion will be sent from Church Pension Group directly to the parish for record keeping, and a copy will also be sent to the diocese. No certificate will be mailed to the individual.
- Level II: Classroom training (3 hours)
Online training is required for all clergy serving in the Diocese, diocesan employees, church employees, youth leaders, Lay Eucharistic Visitors, Stephen Ministers, tutors, pastoral visitors and those who visit the sick, elderly or those in prison on behalf of the church. Training is provided through the Diocese by certified trainers. This course must be renewed every three years. The Diocese will keep records of those who have completed Level II training, and a certificate may be provided upon request.
Note: Level II training supersedes Level I training. Those who take Level II do not need to take Level I.