Reporting Sexual Misconduct by Leaders

MCEC is committed to supporting congregations to ensure that they are safe for everyone. When sexual misconduct occurs (that is, uninvited sexual engagement of any kind by a church leader) the church takes this very seriously.

Sexual misconduct by church leaders is a topic most people want to avoid. But, unfortunately, the church is not immune, abuse does occur, and the effects can be devastating. It is a topic we need to talk about. Victims deserve to be heard because the harm must be acknowledged, and if ongoing, stopped. If you have experienced sexual misconduct, we extend an invitation that we hope will help you move beyond the pain to a place of restoration and healing.

If you have been a victim of sexual misconduct by a church leader, your story deserves to be heard and you will be treated with dignity, respect, and without judgment. We want to hear about your experiences in a way that will feel safe, respectful, and supportive for you. Our responsibility is to hear your concerns and to ensure that abuse stops and is investigated thoroughly, respecting everyone concerned.

How do I report what happened?

If you are a victim of sexual misconduct, you can contact a member of the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada leadership staff to discuss what to do next. Our response people have experience dealing with issues of sexual misconduct.

You can contact MCEC by calling or emailing the office and asking to speak to a female or male person. Our main contact is:

Marilyn Rudy-Froese, MCEC Church Leadership Minister
Toll Free: 1-855-476-2500 (Ext. 704)
Emailmrudyfroese@mcec.ca

The initial conversation will be with a person who understands sexual misconduct and will listen to your experiences and help you determine how you wish to proceed. This person will take notes, but these notes and your story will not go beyond the two of you unless you decide otherwise.

With the support of the person who receives your concern, you will be able to review your options for how best to address your situation. Together you will assess what steps can be taken to bring healing and ensure safety for yourself and others.

Congregations normally have a pastoral leader who has been formally credentialled by MCEC. Congregations also have numerous volunteer or lay leaders who are not credentialled by MCEC. MCEC believes that a church leader, whether credentialled or not-credentialled should never enter into sexualized behavior with a person for whom the leader is responsible or with whom they interact as a part of their professional or volunteer roles.

Sexualized behavior can include inappropriate discussion of sexual matters, sexualized touching, actions or words that communicate sexual interest or add an overt sexual dimension to a relationship, and any breach of sexual ethical standards that govern church leaders.

The church leader is always responsible to prevent such behavior. If you are uncertain how to interpret what you experienced, the person with whom you share your story will help you understand if your experience involved sexual misconduct.

Meeting with the Response Person will be as safe and comfortable as possible for you. Response Persons are fully committed to ensuring your safety throughout the process of reporting. We want to avoid “re-victimizing” anyone and therefore, every effort will be made to make you feel safe.

A person reporting sexual misconduct is in a highly vulnerable position. MCEC is dedicated to receiving your story and to discerning next steps with you. Rest assured that the  Response Persons are ready to hear your experiences with understanding and compassion.

The extent of your disclosure will not be determined without your full participation. The Response Person can talk to you about your options and what is involved in making a formal complaint. A formal complaint process includes policies and procedures which you can explore before you decide to proceed. At all times, your story will be treated with respect and with attention to confidentiality. However, there are mandatory reporting requirements in cases of sexual misconduct involving children under the age of 16.

You do not give up control of your story. With the exception of cases where the misconduct involves someone under the age of 16, your story is yours and MCEC will do all it can to maintain your control of it at all times. Your story would be shared with others in a highly confidential manner if you decide to proceed with a formal complaint. You can discuss concerns about confidentiality and the reporting process with the Response Person. Your willingness and courage to share your story may prevent others from being victims of sexual misconduct.

MCEC expects that church leaders behave appropriately and respectfully. No one benefits from looking the other way when it comes to sexual misconduct. Even when it is hard to do so, it is better that the truth be heard.

MCEC is responsible for the licencing and credentialing of pastoral leaders, and therefore has the authority to investigate misconduct and then take necessary action.

MCEC does not licence or credential lay church leaders. If the misconduct is related to a non-credentialled church leader, then MCEC will support you in taking your concern to trusted leaders in your congregation. It is very important that your congregation takes the necessary steps to deal with sexual misconduct by a lay church leader. MCEC will support you in taking these steps and will support the congregation in addressing sexual misconduct by a non-credentialled church leader.

  • All MCEC ministers sign a Covenant Regarding Ethics in Ministry with MCEC and the congregation in which they are serving.
  • In addition, every three years all active ministers are expected to attend continuing education events such as the Healthy Pastoral Relationships Workshop which outlines appropriate behavioral boundaries.
  • All congregations are strongly encouraged to implement a Safe Church Policy, which outlines appropriate and inappropriate behavior and sets in place practical procedures to ensure that their faith community is a safe space for everyone.
  • MCEC works to provide education and resources to foster Church as a safe space for persons of all ages.

Circle of Grace

Circle of Grace is a Christian safe environment curriculum that helps to form and educate children and youth about the value of positive relationships with God and others. It teaches children and youth how to identify and maintain appropriate physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual boundaries; recognize when boundary violations are about to occur; and demonstrate how to take action when boundaries are threatened or violated.

Contact Joan Schooley to receive a copy.

Sacred Trust

A resource for the Anabaptist faith community on sexual misconduct in the church. We hope these stories and discussion questions will equip congregations to prevent this type of abuse from happening. And if abuse does happen, we hope Sacred Trust will equip you to be more prepared to respond compassionately and faithfully.

SafeZone

Promoting healthy boundaries in Christian camps. The goal of SafeZone is to foster relationships in the camp setting that are healthy, wholesome and life-giving. Camps are safer if we are all educated about boundaries. Our hope is that each child and staff person will benefit from a camp experience that draws them deeper into healthy relationships with God and each other. This has also been used as Sunday School discussion material.

A Prayer

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

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