Revised by SPRC and Approved by Church Council August 28, 2012

Chatham United Methodist Church affirms the 2008 Book of Discipline, which states that sexual harassment undermines the social goal of equal opportunity and the climate of mutual respect between men and women.

Furthermore,“Violent, disrespectful, or abusive sexual expressions do not confirm sexuality as God’s good gift.” As the promise of Galatians 3:26-29, states all are one in Christ, we support equity among all persons without regard to ethnicity, situation or gender.

Sexual abuse within the ministerial relationship is a form of sexual misconduct and occurs when a person within a ministerial role of leadership (lay or clergy, pastor, educator, counselor, youth leader, or other position of leadership) engages in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with a congregant, client, employee, student, staff member, coworker, or volunteer.” (Book of Resolutions 2008, p. 135)

Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual comment, advance, or demand, either verbal or physical, that is reasonably perceived by the recipient as demeaning, intimidating, or coercive. Sexual harassment includes, but not limited to, the creation of a hostile or abusive working environment resulting from discrimination on the basis of gender. (Book of Discipline 2008, 161.I) It is unwanted sexual or gender-directed behavior within a pastoral, employment, ministerial (including volunteers), mentor, or colleague relationship that is so severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of employment or volunteer work or unreasonably interferes with the employee or volunteer’s performance by creating a hostile environment that can include unwanted sexual jokes, repeated advances, touching, displays, or comments that insult, degrade or sexually exploit women, men, elders, children, or youth.” (2008 Book of Resolutions, p. 135).

Misconduct of a sexual nature within the life of the Church interferes with its moral mission. Chatham United Methodist Church stands in opposition to the sin of misconduct of a sexual nature in the Church and society at large and commits itself to fair and expedient investigation of any charge of sexual misconduct within the church and to take action deemed appropriate and in compliance with the Book of Discipline. Futher, Chatham United Methodist Church seeks to create an environment of hospitality for all persons, male or female, which is free of misconduct of a sexual nature and encourages respect, equality and kinship in Christ.

Some instances of sexual harassment can be resolved easily and informally between the parties, which process the church encourages as an initial step in resolving the issue. If the above process does not resolve the issue the misconduct of a sexual nature should be reported to the chair of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee and the pastor in charge.

If the misconduct involves a clergy person, the church will consult with the District Superintendent or presiding bishop before proceeding further.

REPORTING GUIDELINES

Discreet and confidential reporting of suspected abuse is critical to abuse prevention. If you observe any suspected harm to a person or any inappropriate conduct or relationships between two adults or an adult and a minor in the church’s program, follow these reporting guidelines:

Conduct must be reported to:

  • Pastor: Sara Isbell, phone 217-299-4870
  • SPRC Chair: Jeremy Peck, phone 217-622-6015

If the conduct involves a clergy person or the chair of SPRC, reports should be sent to:

  • Bishop: Jonathan Keaton, phone (217) 529-3820
  • District Superintendent: Terry Harter, phone 217-529-3257

We will not prejudice any person accused, but we will take any allegations of misconduct seriously. We will fully cooperate with any authorities investigating an allegation of child abuse. We will treat the accused with dignity and respect. If the accused is a volunteer, that person shall temporarily be relieved of his or her duties by the Directing Pastor until the investigation is finished and the person has been cleared by the authorities.

The Church, including individual staff-persons and members, will not retaliate against any person who brings forward a complaint. All staff, leaders and volunteers are expected to immediately report any knowledge of harassment, abuse or misconduct to the appropriate person listed above.

Any questionable conduct or relationships between a volunteer and a child/youth under our care will be addressed immediately and investigated. Prompt warnings will be issued when appropriate, and the situation monitored very closely. The volunteer’s services will be terminated immediately for continued violations of such warnings, or for a single violation of sufficient gravity. If the person is a paid employee, the Staff Parish Committee shall make arrangements to either maintain or suspend his or her income until the allegations are cleared or substantiated.

While Chatham United Methodist Church cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality, it will make every reasonable effort to maintain confidence by disclosing information about the complaint only on a “need to know” basis as necessary to promote God’s call for justice, reconciliation and healing. Staff and members of this congregation will also follow the mandatory reporting laws of the State of Illinois.