Renewal Ministries Fellowship ~ Discipling, Uniting, Equipping & Mobilising the Body of Christ
. ........... Renewal ~ rebirth, regeneration, restoration, rekindling, revitalisation, replenishment & revival
......................"..we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. 4:5)
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All people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and have tremendous value in His eyes (John 3:16). Jesus came to set people free from their sins and from all that oppresses, imprisons and blinds (Luke 4:18). He said:

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

Jesus has commissioned His people, His church, His body to continue this ministry of bringing life in all its fullness to others. Sexual abuse steals, kills and destroys - it is the antithesis of the work of Christ and the calling of His church (Jeremiah 23:1-4, Ezekiel 34:1-28). It is the aim and purpose of Renewal Ministries Fellowship to be an instrument of God's healing in this world, to preach good news to the poor, bind up the broken hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair so that they will indeed display the splendour of our Lord (Isaiah 61:1-3).

This document is intended to provide policy and procedures for individuals who have had painful or uncomfortable experiences within the church community. Where these experiences become identified as Sexual Harassment and/or Sexual Abuse, this Policy and Procedures document of Renewal Ministries Fellowship will outline how these concerns can be addressed within the fellowship. While we recognise that laws differ both in form and enforcement in the various nations of our Affiliates we uphold that the Word of God does not and even if no legal avenues are available in some nations the principals of the policy and need for church discipline remain the same.


Renewal Ministries Fellowship is committed to providing a safe environment for worship, work, and study in all Pastoral Charges, Congregations, institutions, agencies, organisations, or other bodies that operate under its name or are Affiliated with us. Complaints of sexual abuse (sexual harassment, pastoral sexual misconduct, or sexual assault) or child abuse will be taken seriously and dealt with in a spirit of compassion and justice.

Renewal Ministries Fellowship will not tolerate, and will seek to eradicate, any behaviour by its affiliates, members, ministers, adherents, or employees that constitutes sexual abuse (sexual harassment, pastoral sexual misconduct, or sexual assault).

Renewal Ministries Fellowship seeks to protect from abuse not only its own members and adherents but also all persons who avail themselves of the pastoral or professional services of Renewal Ministries Fellowship or our affiliated ministries. Therefore any person who is not an affiliate or an adherent who has sought out the professional or pastoral services of employees or ministry personnel of Renewal Ministries Fellowship as cited above for purposes of pastoral care, counselling, marriage workshops, day care, etc., has the right not to be abused in any way. Such person is also extended the right to full protection of the policies and procedures of Renewal Ministries Fellowship for the addressing of such matters.


Sexual Abuse refers to demeaning/ exploitative behaviour of a sexual nature ranging from jokes, to unwanted touching, to forced sexual activities. It may also include threats of such behaviour. It involves the wrongful use of power in a relationship to satisfy a sexual desire. Sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual assault and pastoral sexual abuse are forms of sexual abuse.

Sexual Harassment: any attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship, or to subject a person to unwanted sexual attention, or to punish a refusal to comply, or to reward compliance. Sexual harassment must be understood as an exploitation of a power relationship, rather than as an exclusively sexual issue. Sexual harassment may involve a wide range of behaviours from verbal innuendo and subtle suggestions to overt demands and inappropriate physical contact of a sexual nature. It may be one incident or a series of incidents. It is behaviour of a sexual nature that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwanted or unwelcome.

Sexual Exploitation: the development of, or attempt to develop, a sexual relationship with a person who is in a position of vulnerability due to the influence and authority of the perpetrator. Any consent of an individual in such circumstances is irrelevant to the determination of sexual exploitation due to the inequality of the relationship. Any physical or verbal behaviour intended to arouse or suggest erotic feelings in a recipient of pastoral care is exploitative.

Sexual Assault: any sexual touching of, or other sexual contact without that person's consent, defined in State or Federal law as a criminal offence. This includes contact with persons judged legally incompetent to consent.

Child Sexual Assault: any sexual touching of, or other sexual contact with a legal minor that is defined in State or Federal law in Australia as a criminal offence.

Pastoral Sexual Abuse: sexual harassment, sexual abuse or any other sexual activity or conduct (including but not limited to sexual intercourse) in which the minister takes advantage of the vulnerability of a person under his/her pastoral care. Such behaviour, whether it appears to be initiated by the minister or by the person under his/her pastoral care, shall be deemed to be pastoral sexual misconduct. Not withstanding the foregoing, the minister shall not be held responsible for an act of sexual assault perpetrated against her/himself by a person under her/his pastoral care.

Sexual Impropriety / Misconduct: sexual behaviour with another person where the behaviour is in violation of the person's publicly professed sexual commitment (eg. marriage); contravenes the moral teachings of the scriptures; not definable as sexual abuse; likely to cause scandal and may attract Church disciplinary action but is not classed as a criminal act in civil law.


Education, Training and Prevention

A high priority must be given to preventative measures including education.

In the Church Community

1. It is essential that the imperative of servant leadership is taught and emphasised within all our congregations and ministries.

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."(Matthew 20:25-28)

2. It is necessary that all members and associates of Renewal Ministries Fellowship have some understanding of the Fellowship's stance and policy with regard to sexual abuse/ harassment issues. This is the first step in openness and in building an atmosphere of trust and safety for all members. This will be implemented through a combination of:

  • open discussions
  • access to the policy on the Renewal web site

3. Since the issue of sexual abuse/harassment has profound implications for marriage and familial relationships, time and opportunity for the enrichment of these relationships needs to be provided and encouraged.

  • Church workers need to be sensitive to the possible over-commitment of a member at the expense of his/her spouse/family and of his/her own model of behaviour in this area.
  • Premarital, Marriage Enrichment, Parenting and Relationship building studies/counselling/activities need to be seen as part of the education program of the ministry.
  • Parenting and communication skills courses can be a source of support and education to the wider community. The ministry needs to research, publicise and encourage participation in such ventures offered by other churches and agencies.

Pastoral Training and Support

Training for the responsibilities of pastoral, teaching, or other ministry should include programs which develop:

1.Understanding of sexual abuse/harassment and the legal (civic) and disciplinary (church) measures in place for complaints.

2. Awareness of the trainee's own perception of sexual behaviour, attitudes, expectations, cultural and emotional conditioning in his/her relationships and consideration of their appropriateness.

3. Understanding of the possible behaviours, attitudes, expectations, cultural and emotional conditioning of the church community and how that may influence and challenge the church worker/community member relationship.

4. Examination of appropriate stances in pastoral care and counselling, eg. pastoral touch, confidentiality, protection of self and client; the development of basic counselling and listening skills.

5. Awareness of the issue of power and vulnerability in the pastor/parishioner and the lay church worker/client relationships.

6. Understanding of how/when sexuality is a pastoral issue.

7. Appreciation and nurturing of the church worker's own marriage and family relationships; a recognition of their value and the stresses and implications of ministry life.

8. Affirmation and encouragement of the value and necessity of seeking support through supervision, counselling, therapy, etc. for relationship difficulties; information and referral possibilities both within and outside Renewal Ministries Fellowship.

9. The issues confronting a single church worker in a community setting.

As each one of these issues is ongoing throughout a person's life and ministry, there needs to be a program of education that continues throughout the minister's service including:

1. The development of support networks and contacts for the purpose of referral and assistance in ministry to church communities and members dealing with sexual issues.

2.The recommendation of and the provision of opportunities for supervision of pastoral encounters where confidentiality or location requires that a church worker deals with a community or individual's issues alone.

3.Regular training and education days with appropriately trained leaders.

Complaints Procedure


A complaint of sexual abuse/harassment has the potential to affect a wide network of relationships. In particular three groups call for special pastoral care - the victim, his/her family or significant relationships, (the associate victims); the alleged perpetrator, his/her family, peers, (the secondary victims); the church community and individual members as a whole. The pastoral response of the church needs to be integrated with the investigative, disciplinary and legal procedures which may be undertaken.

The purpose of procedures for dealing with cases of sexual abuse (sexual harassment, pastoral sexual misconduct, sexual assault) is to protect the vulnerable, stop the abuse, and to promote restoration/ healing.

Renewal Ministries Fellowship shall offer appropriate pastoral support to the victim, the alleged offender and their respective families. It is inappropriate for the same person to offer pastoral care to both the victim and the alleged offender. It is not appropriate for specific/designated pastoral care to be offered by those involved in any disciplinary actions related to the case.

The purpose of these procedures may be accomplished by offering opportunities for the truth to be spoken and believed, for any violation to be acknowledged, for accountability to be exercised, and for compassion to be demonstrated in ways that serve justice. All procedures need to be based on providing protection for the vulnerable and ensuring accountability for the offender. Every effort needs to be made to offer restitution to the victims and to enable them to be vindicated and to be set free from the power of the violation in their lives. It is also hoped that these procedures will, in some way, call the offenders to undertake a journey toward rediscovering their own humanity for their own well-being and for the well-being of the community.

Specific Procedures for Cases Involving Legal Minors

When a complaint of sexual or physical abuse of a child designated as a legal minor is disclosed or where there are reasonable grounds to suspect such abuse, the person to whom the disclosure is made or who suspects such abuse shall immediately report the suspicion and the information on which it is based to the appropriate authority or agency (in Queensland this is the Department of Child Protection -see also Policy on Working with Children and Young People).

Once the appropriate authority or agency is contacted, their staff will begin the investigation of the case and contact the individuals as they see fit. Only the required authority or agency or the police may question the victim or the alleged offender in order that the investigation may proceed unhindered. In nations or situations where the civil authorities have no interest in investigating these matters the situation will not be left to fester or allowed to continue but rather prayerful church discipline procedures shall be adopted to ensure the safety and healing of the victum and seek the true repentance and restoration of the perputrator.

Referral for pastoral support is appropriate.

The suspicion and/or disclosure shall not be reported to the family of the victim if a family member is involved or named as an offender nor shall the alleged perpetrator be contacted by the person reporting the suspicion or disclosure.

If the information is received through disclosure by the child, it is important to record the details of the conversation including the date, time, location and description of alleged offences.

When the alleged perpetrator in a case involving a legal minor is in an accountable relationship to Renewal Ministries Fellowship the matter shall be reported to the President by the person who has taken the allegations to the authorities. This shall be done as soon as it is permitted by state legislation.

Complaints Procedure

1. The complainant voices their concerns and is offered an Advocate to journey with them through the complaints process. All Advocates must be familiar with the issues involved in sexual abuse (sexual harassment, pastoral sexual misconduct, sexual assault) and be committed to confidentiality, sensitive and discerning. The complainant's story must be heard in such a way that reduces fear and anxiety and does not blame, shame or in any way punish the complainant.

2. When a complainant approaches an Advocate, the role of this Advocate is to listen, take the complaint seriously, assist the Complainant in clarifying any confusion about the situation and outline options for dealing with the complaint and the possible implications of such options. This should include explaining procedures within the church and external routes for dealing with complaints. The complainant needs to be made aware of the possibility of pursuing his/her complaint through legal avenues and that agreement to participate in the Renewal complaint's procedure does not preclude the taking up of this option. The complainant should also be made aware that any victimisation as a result of reporting sexual abuse or harassment will not be tolerated and will be regarded as a serious breach of discipline, automatically resulting in a formal investigation that, if proven, may result in disciplinary action being taken against the respondent, which can include dismissal.

3. It is essential that the complainant gives permission for any further action to be taken, and that he/she is aware of the options and possible consequences of choosing them. At each stage of the complaint's procedure the Advocate needs to ascertain the consent and desire of the complainant to undertake any step. Conciliation and mediation processes may be undertaken in isolation or as consecutive means to resolving the issue. An inability or unwillingness of a victim to proceed through either or both of these processes does not exempt the Ministry leadership from taking further disciplinary action should the investigative processes and interviews of both victim and alleged perpetrator indicate and there is a case to answer. It must be recognised that the emotional burden of such a process in cases of intentional and/or severe abuse precludes effective conciliation or mediation processes.

4. If the allegations of sexual abuse/harassment made by the complainant indicate that a criminal offence has taken place the Advocate should cease internal investigations and refer the complainant to the police and assist and support the complainant in seeking legal advice. The Advocate will inform the President of Renewal who would then need to immediately suspend the church worker from active ministry pending criminal investigation.

5. The complainant may, but is not obliged to, choose to try to resolve the matter through informal procedures. The suggestions outlined below do not need to be undertaken in any particular order, or at all, nor are they necessarily appropriate in all circumstances.

a. Say "no" to the Respondent and make it clear that the behaviour is unacceptable and unwanted. It might be appropriate to have a supportive person present for this conversation.

b. Keep records of incidents/witnesses, etc., for possible future use.

c. Write a letter to the Respondent asking that the offensive behaviour stop immediately. Any letters sent to the Respondent are to be sent by Assured Delivery and copies kept by the complainant.

6. With the complainant's consent and comfort ascertained, and with the support of the Advocate, a detailed factual documentation of the complaint is to be prepared by an Investigator during an interview with the complainant. The Investigator is to be a member of the Renewal Ministries Fellowship (or other qualified person) familiar with the issues involved in sexual abuse. The documentation should include:

a. a specific description of the sexual behaviour/s involved,

b. the status or position of the church worker involved,

c. the date/s of the alleged behaviour/s,

d. the status of complainant at the time of the incident/s (eg. congregational member, Sunday School teacher, student, employee; whether the person was a counsellee of the church worker at the time),

e. the age of complainant at the time of incident,

f. the consequences/aftermath for the complainant (eg. leaving the congregation, school, spiritual and emotional crises, therapy),

g. information about others who may have experienced similar abuse by church worker or who may have witnessed alleged abuse.

7. Complainants will be invited to read and sign this notation at the end of the interview process to signal agreement that the notes represent a fair and complete account of information given. The Advocate and Investigator also sign this document.

8. During the investigative interview the Advocate and Investigator need to determine whether or not the complainant has attempted to make known the offensive nature of the behaviour to the respondent and the results of this attempt. Some empowering of the complainant through education and skill development may avoid a lengthy and painful complaint process. However, it must be made clear that responsibility for the creation of the offensive behaviour does not rest with the victim and that support is available through the Renewal complaints procedure.

9. A brief factual description of the complainant's emotional state should be made, recorded and signed by the Advocate and Investigator with reference to his/her situation, ie. whether or not the person has divulged this previously or received counselling. It should be noted here that further recollections of continued abuse may emerge over time for a victim, particularly if this is the first occasion the person has spoken of the experience with another.

10. At the conclusion of the investigative interview/s the Advocate and Investigator meet with the President of Renewal for a Reporting Conference to determine further action.

a. If the Advocate and Investigator have reasonable grounds for believing that a complaint has not been made in good faith they have the discretion not to proceed with the investigation and report such a decision and the grounds on which it is made to the President.

b. If the Advocate and Investigator believe the complaint was made in good faith but believe it to be untrue, eg. the behaviour in question does not constitute sexual abuse/harassment, or other issues seem to be effecting the complainant's perception of the alleged behaviour, the Consultant and Investigator need to hear the complainant's distress and possibly advise/facilitate appropriate pastoral care and educational opportunities, and the Investigator may be able to mediate with the complainant and church worker for reconciliation and understanding.

c. If the Investigator has reasonable grounds for believing that the complaint has some basis they are to meet with the respondent (who may choose to have a support person present for the meeting) to discuss the allegations with them and compile detailed factual documentation of their response. The purpose of this process is to convey to the respondent that a complaint has been received and to hear the respondent's version of the situation. The Respondent will be advised that retaliation and/or threats of retaliation against the Complainant or others working with the complaint will not be tolerated by the Management Committee, nor will any behaviour be tolerated that initiates, fosters or contributes to such retaliation or threats of retaliation. In all of the above instances, written documentation of such decisions and any action taken needs to be made in the event of a complainant deciding to take further action at a later date.

Formal Hearing

When a case of sexual abuse reaches this stage, it means that the abuse is so severe and/or the possibility of resolution so remote that the Complainant has decided to request a Formal Hearing, that informal efforts at resolution have not succeeded in stopping the sexual abuse, or that the Respondent has requested a Formal Hearing.

Within seven (7) days of a decision to hold a Formal Hearing in cases related to sexual abuse where the Respondent is serving in any ministry role, the President of Renewal Ministries Fellowship, after consultation with the other bodies they consider to be appropriate, shall make a decision whether it would be inappropriate for the minister to continue to function pending the outcome of the Formal Hearing. The officers making the decision regarding the appropriateness of the minister continuing to function pending the outcome of the Formal Hearing are encouraged to consult (without providing identifying information) widely in order to better assess the issues of power and vulnerability inherent in the case. Should the decision be that it is inappropriate for the minister to continue to function, the minister shall immediately be relieved from serving in any aspect of the ministry involving interaction with others. The decision to give the minister leave of their position shall be sent by Assured Delivery to the minister and the body they minister with. If the minister is in receipt of a wage from their ministry they shall receive salary and benefits as for those "on leave", pending the outcome of the Formal Hearing. Such leave shall not be deemed to presume the outcome of the Formal Hearing nor shall it be understood to be punitive or disciplinary. The purpose of such leave is to protect those who may be vulnerable should the allegations be substantiated and to remove the Respondent from positions which would maximise the possibility of creating further distress for the Complainant and positions from which the Respondent might influence public opinion or the outcome of the Hearing.

If the Formal Hearing determines that the charges have not been proven and there is no grounds for disciplinary action the decision and reasons for it shall be documented and all parties shall be notified of the decision.

If the Formal Hearing determines that the charge has been proven, and is considering the appropriate discipline, the Committee shall also consider the nature of any previous complaints and action taken on them. The Respondent shall have an opportunity to address the Formal Hearing in regard to this information. All parties shall be notified of any disciplinary action determined by the Formal Hearing.


Areas of Pastoral Concern for the Victim (Complainant)

These may include:-

  • feelings of isolation and being let down by the church
  • wanting an apology or expression of regret from a representative of the church
  • wanting sexual abusive behaviour of church worker to stop
  • wanting to protect others who may be victimised by perpetrator
  • wanting to confront the perpetrator with his/her anger and express how the behaviour has affected him/her
  • wanting to be healed emotionally and spiritually from the results of the abuse
  • wanting financial reimbursement for costs of counselling needed due to the abuse
  • wanting to see evidence of justice being done
  • wanting to see the alleged perpetrator educated, punished, removed from ministry
  • wanting revenge
  • wanting an acknowledgement of sin and repentance
  • wanting to find a representative of the church who will have the power to act, thus rebuilding trust in the church as living by the gospel it proclaims
  • wanting to avoid "damaging" the church or the church worker's ministry
  • wanting to protect the feelings of others in the congregation or those of family and friends
  • feelings of shame and self-blame

Listening to and helping a victim work through such issues is an important aspect of pastoral care through this situation. In any meetings/interviews, the complainant will be given the right to be accompanied by a support person. Regular contact with the complainant needs to be made by the Consultant to ensure that the complainant is aware of the current state of proceedings.

Care of those in Significant Relationships with Victim

Each person in this group will have differing responses and possible frequently changing responses to the victim, to the alleged perpetrator, to other family members and friends, to the church community and to the Church as an institution.

  • various stages of blame of the victim or the alleged perpetrator
  • blame of another in the family, church community, church hierarchy
  • feelings of betrayal by complainant, church hierarchy and church community
  • broken or dysfunctional relationships with victim due to impact of the abuse
  • feelings of shame, humiliation
  • loss of faith and connectedness with church.

Renewal Ministries Fellowship needs to ensure pastoral care is available to listen to such issues. In the case of geographical distance it may be helpful to involve other sources of pastoral care for such family members, eg. when a young adult has moved to another city for employment or study, etc. In such cases extra care is needed to ensure appropriate communication between family members takes place, should the victim wish to share the situation with his/her family.

Care of the Respondent (Alleged Perpetrator)

In the first instance, the respondent must be informed of the complaint/s laid against him/her and be given an opportunity for response to them. Adequate investigation of the complaint beforehand ensures that this is done in the most responsible manner. It is desirable that an appointed pastoral carer to the alleged perpetrator be present.

Issues for consideration:

¥ location of meeting with Investigator to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

¥ information to be shared with the alleged perpetrator, being mindful of honouring any confidentiality undertakings to complainant. Such information is to be taken from the signed documentation.

¥ a clear statement of intended action and the procedures of Renewal Ministries Fellowship, dependent on the seriousness of the offence.

¥ a clear statement of the purpose of this meeting and desired outcomes.

¥ a clear statement of the church's role in pastoral care for the alleged perpetrator and his family.

¥ a clear instruction that no contact be made by the alleged perpetrator with the complainant or those associated with the complainant, eg. family members, close friends, congregational care group leaders, etc.

Possible Pastoral Issues arising for the Alleged Perpetrator:

¥ a desire to contact the complainant to resolve the matter and avoid further involvement of church officials and procedure;

¥ anger at being accused;

¥ confusion as to the injury allegedly caused by the behaviour;

¥ blaming of the complainant and justifying of self;

¥ fear as to future in ministry;

¥ fear of consequences for marital and family relationships;

¥ loss of physical security, eg. employment and home;

¥ anxiety for effect on wife and family members in any required relocation;

¥ loss of faith;

¥ feelings of alienation from peers;

¥ ability/inability to continue ministry in present context and loss of those relationships;

¥ recognition of a problem centred in sexual expression and a desire for emotional and spiritual healing through therapy;

¥ legal and therapeutic costs.

The President's involvement in the disciplinary process prevents him/her from providing adequate pastoral care to the church worker and his/her family. The respondent needs to be informed of this and of the pastoral care contact appointed for him/her. The person may choose to seek a support of his/her own but the President should also appoint a representative from amongst his/her peers who has undergone the training process in responding to sexual abuse issues. This appointee would maintain communication of information about the process and ensure that the church is in an official capacity acknowledging and moving to meet the respondent's pastoral needs.

Pastoral Care of those in Significant Relationship to the Respondent

It is helpful to appoint or suggest a second pastoral carer for the specific care of the respondent's spouse/partner and family as they can be considered as "secondary victims" of the alleged behaviour. Any allegations raised will strike at the fibre of the marital and familial trust relationships and place them at risk. The pastoral carer will be alert to all of the above issues with the possible additions of:

¥ betrayal of marital and parent/child relationships

¥ doubting of own sexuality

¥ loss of parental role model

¥ shame and self-blame for alleged perpetrator's behaviour

¥ social withdrawal

¥ impact of gossip and rumours

¥ impact of media scrutiny of issues of sexuality and sexual abuse.

Therapy and Counselling of Victims and Respondents

It is recommended that counselling be arranged through an appropriately qualified non-Renewal Ministries Fellowship therapist for the security of the counselee and appropriate objectivity and confidentiality.

Care of the Church Community

Investigation, suspension or removal of a church worker from a church community due to alleged or admitted sexual abuse/harassment, necessitates some disclosure of the facts of the case concerned. Disclosure to the congregation/community served by the person enables more effective healing, even though the initial trauma may be greater.

In the first instance, it is easier for a community to consider the needs of its members if unpleasant allegations or facts are openly stated and discussed. Secrecy inevitably results in rumour, distortion and confusion. The betrayals of trust, division and fears that accompany such secrecy have the potential to destroy a church community. Lack of trust in the ability of church communities to cope and grow in understanding and faith through traumatic incidents is not pastoral. It has the potential to leave a church community feeling deceived and patronised and to the asking of some pertinent questions as to whom the church was endeavouring to protect by such action.

Secondly, disclosure allows the open reaching out to individual members who have felt betrayed, confused and experienced disruption due to the sudden and apparently inexplicable resignation or removal of their church worker. In fulfilling its purpose of ministering to those in need of the love, healing and reconciliation of the gospel, disclosure has the potential to touch and speak to other members who have been victims, or associated with victims of sexual abuse, but who have not been able to confront and deal with its impact on their lives to this point. Disclosure may help to raise awareness of sexual abuse and avenues available to assist in its prevention.

Thirdly, appropriate action and disclosure may be necessary to protect both the community and the church.

Any disclosure must only be made after thorough preliminary investigation of the allegations indicating that there is a strong likelihood of a case to be answered and the church worker is suspended pending further investigation and mediation. Effective disclosure which enables the healing process to begin needs to include the following:

¥ no revelation of the name or facts which identify the victim/s;

¥ information on what in the miniseries' understanding constitutes sexual misconduct and how the minister's action violates Renewal Ministries Fellowship's expectations of those engaged in its ministry;

¥ a factual description of the conduct of which the worker is accused or has admitted. This may include identifying whether the victim/s are minors, adults and whether the behaviour is heterosexual or homosexual;

¥ information on how members of the church community may obtain assistance if required, eg. names, contact numbers for counselling or for the continuation of regular pastoral ministry;

¥ information as to the steps taken by the President to provide care for victim/s, the minister involved and their respective families.

In the case of a minister not admitting sexual abuse/harassment but with evidence indicating the necessity of the President's intervention, any disclosure will refer to allegations of the worker's conduct and will also state that he/she has denied such allegations.

In the event of his/her innocence shown after due processes have occurred, public apologies to the church worker and the church community must be offered by Renewal Ministries Fellowship and from the community to the minister. Any apology of the complainant to the minister also needs to be sought by Renewal Ministries Fellowship. The minister should also be fully reinstated to his/her ministry and given appropriate support and opportunity for pastoral counselling.

Follow-Up Action After the Immediate Crisis

Ongoing pastoral care needs to be available to each group affected by an incident of sexual abuse/harassment for a lengthy period of time. Individuals will vary in their recovery and healing times. Some options in pastoral care of congregations/ communities include:

¥ small group meetings which allow a more ready expression of doubts, anger, fears, concerns, etc. These groups may be facilitated by pastoral carers who have a clear understanding of the position of the church, its actions and policy and the pastoral implications of that for the healing process.

¥ the equipping of suitable persons within the congregation to work with members on an individual visitation program.

¥ a series of educational forums for the whole congregation, conducted over a period of several weeks and focusing on the impact of sexual abuse, preventative measures, pressures that may add to a person's inclination to abuse, signs to be aware of that may suggest a person has been a victim of sexual abuse (particularly useful when children have been victims), the healing process for victims and associates.

¥ the involvement of other professionals from the community and other areas may assist in the healing process complementing the work of the incoming or relieving minister.

A significant task will be to affirm the value of a sense of community in the congregation and their capacity to minister to each other. It is a time for congregations to be recalled to awareness that the work of the gospel is accomplished most profoundly in the midst of suffering and weakness and not in the outward signs of success.

Follow-Up Care for Victim/s, Ministers and their Families

It is important for the spiritual care of victim/s, minister and their respective families, that a follow-up plan be implemented to ensure that they do not feel abandoned after the time of crisis or formal procedures are past.

Such a plan may include the oversight of meeting long term or specific counselling needs and the administration or consideration of necessary medical and legal payments for the victim and the minister.

On no account should an offending person be appointed to another position where he/she would be subject to the temptation and at risk of re-offending. To do so would be extraordinarily irresponsible in terms of the pastoral well-being of both the minister and those receiving his/her ministry. Careful assessment and long term therapy is essential prior to any re-appointment to a ministry centred on people-contact. In some cases entrenched personality issues may prohibit this indefinitely. The priority of Renewal Ministries Fellowship and local church authorities must be to err on the side of caution and not place a church community at risk. (See also our Restoration to Ministry Policy).


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