Public Ministry Policy
Grace Baptist Church
Adopted: 1/96 – Revised 8/11/2015
PREFACE: Policy Intent and Purpose
The Church, existing and ministering in an environment of moral decline and increased legal action, must seek to provide a safe environment for its worshippers and must be prepared to respond promptly and prudently when wrong is charged. It is not the intent of this policy to raise suspicion or mistrust within the Body of Christ, nor to set the church apart in distrust of society in general.
This policy seeks to identify high risk areas of ministry, to alert paid and volunteer staff to sound ministry procedures, to discourage the wrong-doing of any church officer or member, to protect staff, officers, and members from false accusations, and to offer a specific plan for dealing with complex litigation issues, should they arise, in a manner consistent with biblical compassion and doctrine.
Above all, this policy strives to honor and fulfill the following three-fold purpose:
to protect our children and youth from physical, mental, or spiritual abuse;
to protect our workers from unjust accusations or vulnerable situations;
to protect our church body, staff, and officers from detrimental legal or spiritual liability or litigation.
Because Grace Baptist Church discourages the spread of harmful or embarrassing information while encouraging the voluntary sharing of needs, burdens, confessions, and loving confrontations for the edification and restoration of participants in our church life, the staff and leadership will endeavor to keep all information shared confidential. This applies to both informal settings and formal counseling situations. Information shared in public meetings is considered public information. Those in charge of such information will endeavor to store and treat with protective care written or computerized information concerning any individual. Personal information which may harm or distress any individual should be avoided in printed materials (i.e. prayer requests, etc.). Every effort will be made to publish only that information which is both accurate in detail and requested by the individual involved.
II. COPYRIGHT MATERIAL
Copyrighted materials shall not be reproduced for general distribution without written permission from the copyright holder. This notice shall be posted by all copy machines.
Advance planning of trips requiring shared transportation (especially youth activities, etc.) will be encouraged so as to ensure safety as much as possible for participants. Church sponsored transportation requires duly licensed drivers eighteen years of age or older. Drivers license numbers shall be recorded and records checked if deemed necessary.
An adequate number of road-worthy vehicles must be available and we encourage all passengers to be in seat belts. Drivers must follow all driving and safety regulations. The Christian Education Committee will oversee transportation and driver form details.
IV. CONTRACTS AND LEGAL COMMITMENTS
See the Grace Baptist Church Constitution, Article 4, Section 4, Numbers 11-14.
V. CHURCH DISCIPLINE
See the Grace Baptist Church Constitution Article 2, Section 8.
VI. HIRING PASTORAL STAFF
A. Professional/Pastoral Staff
Any staff search committee (appointed via constitutional provision) shall consider candidates based on a prepared job description. References for professional competency and personal reputation will be examined to discover any known history of harm or exploitation or misuse of entrusted power. All candidates will be asked directly if he or she has ever been convicted of any form of sexual misconduct or abuse of power so as to bring harm to another person.
B. Office Staff
Since office staff may have considerable access to information and may, at times, represent the church, they must demonstrate their ability to handle confidential information.
C. All Staff
Since both pastoral and office staff engage in duties of a spiritual nature that further the religious mission of Grace Baptist Church, we require as a condition of employment, that all staff sign a statement affirming their agreement with the Grace Baptist Church Statement of Faith and their willingness to live in accordance with the Grace Baptist Church Statement of Christian Conduct. Failure to do so is grounds for immediate dismissal.
VII. THE CARE OF OUR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
A. Preface: Children Are Our Trust
Children and youth left in the care of paid or volunteer workers for any church programs are considered a trust to be treated with the utmost concern for their safety and well being.
B. Worker Screening
Workers will be screened (see Worker Application Form) and interviewed under the auspices of the Christian Education Committee prior to any child care or youth ministry. We strongly discourage any person previously convicted of child abuse from serving in the care of children or youth under the age of eighteen. Adult survivors of physical or sexual abuse are encouraged to discuss their desire to work with children or youth with one of the pastoral staff prior to applying for ministry.
C. Worker Training
It will be the responsibility of the Christian Education Committee to provide written materials and/or training sessions for workers to ensure a safe environment for our children and youth. Such training will include: awareness of this Public Ministries Policy; information on child care and safety procedures.
D. Supervision of Children/Youth
1. Six-Month Rule
Grace Baptist’s ministries will normally be staffed with volunteers from within the Grace family. Adult volunteer leaders wishing to minister among youth or children shall have been regular attenders at GBC for a minimum of six months or regular attenders for three months with positive references from former church ministries immediately prior to coming to Grace.
Volunteer assistants may begin serving under the supervision of an approved adult leader without the three or six-month waiting period, subject to a thorough interview and positive references prior to the start of their ministry. Beginning workers should be considered apprentices until their conduct and abilities prove consistent with their references.
Paid nursery staff will fall under the same rules for adult leaders and volunteer assistants. See Past XIII for exceptions for any of these rules.
2. Two-Person Rule
In all Nursery through High School classes or activities, two workers, one over the age of eighteen and the other at least the age of twelve, must be present (as much as reasonably possible) whenever any children or youth are present. The Christian Education Committee will endeavor to provide an adequate number of workers at all times to reduce the risk of harm or abuse.
3. Trip\Outing Supervision
The Christian Education Committee and volunteers will endeavor to provide responsible adult supervision on outings away from or on church property, including same gender sponsors for overnight activities. Children or youth may be included in out of town trips only with written permission from their parents (see Medical Release Form) for access to necessary emergency medical treatment. A youth requiring special medical treatment may attend when accompanied by an adult trained for that medical situation.
E. Safe Environment
The Church leadership will endeavor to take every reasonable action to avoid physical, mental, or spiritual harm to our children or youth, including the following: 1) making classroom areas accessible to view via windows in doors, etc.; 2) safeguarding property from physical injury; 3) accommodating the physically challenged; 4) training and supervising workers involved with infants, children, and youth.
VIII. DEALING WITH CHILD ABUSE
Any charge against workers must be acted upon immediately. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), (42 U.S.C.A. §5106g), as amended and reauthorized by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum: “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2013)
The CE Committee will train workers annually to confront suspected abuse discretely and to use effective reporting procedures to protect children from further abuse and guard workers from unwarranted accusations.
C. Procedure for Reporting Abuse during Ministry
- Witnessed abuse against children or youth 1) by a child-care worker or 2) by any other individual while that child is involved in a church program, must be acted upon immediately. Remove the child/children from the situation. Report the witnessed abuse to the proper legal authorities. Report the witnessed abuse to the senior pastor and ministry leader.
- Suspected abuse against children or youth 1) by a child-care worker or 2) by any other individual while that child is involved in a church program, must be reported to the proper authorities and to the senior pastor within 24 hours by the person suspecting the abuse. The person suspecting abuse has the right and legal obligation to contact the proper legal authorities without going to the senior pastor first. However, the senior pastor must be notified that a report was made. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, please telephone the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330. Every call is taken seriously and every effort will be made to protect your identity. Telephone lines are staffed 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency contact your local law enforcement or call 911. *If the person suspecting that an abuse has occurred is questioning whether legal authorities should be contacted, he/she should contact the senior pastor or direct supervisor (ministry leader) for guidance within 24 hours. The ministry leaders will be available if needed to help make the report along with the person suspecting abuse.
- Pastoral resources will be offered to the alleged victim, to the accused, and to families involved. Our pastoral priority will be the care and safety of the abused child and his or her family.
- While the church will treat the accused with dignity and support, that person must be removed from child care, as soon as the child is secured. The accused must not return to child care during the investigation of the charges. If the person is a paid employee, arrangements should be made by the elders concerning his or her income until the allegations are cleared or substantiated.
- The elders will have an attorney, who is non-affiliated with the church, as a participant in the process.
- The church leadership will have all persons involved document in writing the specific allegations and their efforts at handling the situation.
- A statement should be prepared by the elders or senior pastor acknowledging awareness of the problem, concern for the abused, and steps taken to reduce the risk and provide a safe environment. Any public statement to the congregation or press may be presented as a written statement developed in consultation with an attorney.
D. Procedure for Reporting Suspected Abuse Away from Church Ministries (home, school, etc.)
Suspected abuse against children or youth that occurred away from church ministry must be reported to the proper authorities and to the senior pastor within 24 hours by the person suspecting the abuse.
IX. MINISTRY OF AND TO THOSE WITH INFECTIOUS DISEASES
Those who minister under the auspices of Grace do so in accord with our biblical beliefs as long as they do not pose a health risk to others. Anyone with a known infectious disease that poses a potential health risk may be requested to refrain from participation in programs that would expose others to susceptibility to the disease.
B. A Compassionate Response
Grace Baptist Church will endeavor to respond with love and compassion to those with infectious or fatal diseases, as we would any other person, abiding by biblical principles of compassion and ministry and current medical knowledge. We will not ostracize any diseased person, providing that individual presents no real threat to the safety of others. The confidentiality of such individuals will be guarded according to the wishes of the individual unless safety reasons dictate otherwise.
C. Ministering to Infected Children
In the case of infants or small children with infectious diseases, nursery/children’s workers will be trained accordingly (see policy supplement “Ministering To Children and Youth With Infectious Diseases”). Training must include procedures to follow in case of an accident where bleeding can occur.
D. Information and Confidentiality
The educational leadership will endeavor to inform church staff, children’s teachers, and other volunteers as to the presence of a child with a known infectious disease on a “need- to-know” basis.
X. PASTORAL STAFF AND CHARGES OF MORAL VIOLATION
The pastoral staff at Grace Baptist must exemplify the highest moral conduct. Any alleged immoral conduct should be reported immediately to the Board of Elders. (Examples may include, but are not limited to, misappropriation of funds, sexual indiscretion, child abuse, knowingly giving incorrect information to the congregation.)
- The Board of Elders will investigate and document any charges and take any action deemed necessary for the good of the church, proceeding discretely (Matthew 18:15- 20; Galatians 6:1-2; I Timothy 5:19; Jude 22-23).
- Should there be reason to suspect the violation of civil or criminal laws, the situation shall be reported to the proper authorities.
- Where moral misconduct has occurred, the Board of Elders, with the congregation, will consider action supporting the well-being of the church. While forgiveness is a Christian virtue, care for the well-being of the congregation must also be given high priority. Any moral indiscretion that renders the Pastor ineffective with the congregation, while forgiven, may still be reason for dismissal from the staff.
XI. COUNSELING UNDER CHURCH AUSPICES
A. Informal Counseling Situations
Since many forms and levels of counseling take place within the church as members Public provide encouragement, teaching, and sharing of life experiences with one another, discretion is encouraged at all levels.
B. Counseling Procedures
Counseling requested from any non-pastoral official or church board is best done in a public location (i.e. church facility), with two or more members of that board present. Church officials should refrain from offering counsel that is beyond the scope of their training and expertise.
C. Pastoral Counseling Procedure
Pastoral staff should take care to provide counsel to members of the opposite sex only when other staff are on the premises. They will endeavor to conduct most counseling during regular work hours on church property via appointment.
XII. AVOIDANCE OF AND INVESTIGATION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
A. A Biblical Basis
Grace Baptist treats both sexes from a biblical point of view, i.e. that each has been created in, and thus bear the image of God. Therefore, we believe all sexual harassment is inappropriate, doctrinally, socially, and morally.
Sexual harassment is defined as any inappropriate comment or touch denoting sexual interest expressed toward another person, especially when the inappropriate action is repeated after attempts to dissuade the initiator. Comments that directly state or imply sexual advances, including jokes, phrases with double meaning, or comments which could be misconstrued as implying sexual advances, are entirely inappropriate. Touch of any kind, especially within a private setting, must be considered with great discretion, especially by those in positions of authority. While the Scriptures dictate a warm and loving relationship with others, those sensitive to the issue or who have been previously abused may find touch very difficult.
C. Counseling Youth
Should counseling be deemed appropriate for children or youth, the church leadership will endeavor to provide a same-sex adult (i.e. teacher/leader/sponsor) for such counseling or to bring the matter to a parent rather than address an opposite-sex child on a matter.
D. Dealing With Charges of Sexual Harassment
Should charges of sexual harassment be brought to the attention of church officers, the person charged shall be immediately, though temporarily, suspended from activities that would permit any further harassment and the matter investigated expeditiously. The Elder Board shall investigate or direct the matter to be investigated and take appropriate action designed to prevent such incidents from occurring, taking appropriate action as well regarding false accusations.
XIII. POLICY CHANGES AND FORM APPROVAL
Changes and/or exceptions to this policy proper or to the attached forms (Appendices) will be altered by the Elders of Grace Baptist Church upon the recommendation of the Stewardship Committee, overseeing the physical needs and insurance requirements of the church, or the Christian Education Committee, overseeing the educational ministries of the church.
Ministering to Children and Youth With Infectious Diseases
Children will be welcomed into our Bible classes so long as they do not pose an unreasonable health risk. Decisions about education and care for children with infectious diseases should include consultation with those who know the medical condition such as the child’s parents, physician, public health personnel, or guardians. Exceptions to their attendance might be those posed by the Public Health Department guidelines such as the following:
1. A more restricted environment is advised for infected preschool children, for children who cannot control their bowels or bladder, for children who display such behavior as biting, and for infected children who have uncoverable, oozing sores. These children should be cared for and educated in settings that minimize the exposure of other children to their blood and body fluids.
2. Infected preschoolers in attendance must be accompanied to their classes by a loving “monitor” to ensure that they are protected from infections contracted from healthy children (colds, flu, other infectious childhood diseases), as well as to prevent biting incidents, diaper spills, blood spills from falls, etc.
3. Since it is impossible to always realize when one is caring for infected children, all workers must take precautions when dealing with any child, i.e. using disposable diapers and placing soiled diapers in a plastic bag before discarding, flushing feces down the toilet, washing hands after exposure to blood and body fluids and before caring for another child, wearing gloves whenever one changes diapers, cares for open sores, etc., and covering any open sore on any child or worker.
4. Blood and body fluids on surfaces should be cleaned with one part household bleach in 10 parts water.
5. The hygienic practices of an infected child may improve as the child matures, or they may deteriorate if the child’s condition worsens. For these reasons, the need for a restricted environment should be reevaluated regularly.
6. All teachers nursery through 6th grade will have at their disposal chlorine solution (10 to 1) and rubber gloves to use in the event of a blood spill of any kind. Teachers in younger classes involving “pre-potty-trained” infants and toddlers will employ standard, universal health procedures when changing diapers (bleach water to cleanse changing areas and the wearing of rubber gloves). NOTE: In the case of diaper changes, these procedures will be employed at all times with all children being changed. Every precaution will thus be taken to insure the health and the safety of all volunteers, teachers, assistants and workers while extending compassionate ministry to persons living with infectious or fatal diseases.