The Abuse of Power Adoptions from Synod 2019 for Classes to Consider:

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In 2018, synod "appoint[ed] a small team to bring recommendations through the Council of Delegates to Synod 2019 regarding how the CRCNA can best address the patterns of abuse of power at all levels of the denomination." This team finished their report, the Council of Delegates approved it (you can read that report in the supplement to the agenda here with the specific recommendations on page 12 and on page 50-78 is the full report). Synod 2019 then voted and adopted motions very similar to that original report, you can see all of the adoptions here.

Included in these adoptions were some specific actions for classes of the CRCNA to consider. All of the motions that pertain to classes are listed below. Please note that these are not all of the adoptions that were made as recommended from the Addressing Abuse of Power Report, just ones that relate in some way to classes of the Christian Ref. Church.

c. Code of conduct (Video Link: Discussion 7"-1:06")

That synod mandate the committee appointed by action in Recommendation b (which will be developing a training for pastors in abuse of power) to draft a code of conduct for all employed ministry staff within the CRC. The draft code of conduct will be presented to Synod 2020 for approval and with recommendations for implementation for the denomination, classes, and churches.

e. Training at classis and local levels (Video Link: Discussion 1:07:10" - 1:15:00")

  1. That synod encourage all classes to develop a strategy to train officebearers and key church leaders to be alert to power dynamics within the communities they serve and to be equipped to prevent abuse of power. The goal of the strategy is to ensure that all officebearers receive initial training and refreshment through ongoing educational initiatives. An effective strategy will include the following:
    • appropriate training resources
    • reasonable time allocation for training
    • acknowledgment and monitoring of completion of training
  2. That synod encourage all classes to monitor implementation of the training strategy and to consider adopting policies to include completion of training and safe church policies in the regular review of credentials or as a requirement for being seated at a classis meeting.
  3. That synod mandate the executive director to develop, in cooperation with Safe Church Ministry, Pastor Church Resources, Calvin College, and others, a resource toolkit for training officebearers and leaders, readily accessible through the CRC website and Faith Alive Christian Resources.

g. Policy on non-disclosure agreements (Video Link: Discussion 4:54" - 6:46")
That synod direct the executive director to do the following:

  • develop good practices and protocols on the use of NDAs for distribution to classes and councils when faced with situations that might lead to the use of a nondisclosure agreement

h. Funds for counseling services (Video Link: Discussion 6:46" - 13:47")

  1. That synod encourage all classes to take measures to ensure that survivors of abuse within their classis have access to appropriate counseling services.
  2. That the annual report of each classis for the CRC Yearbook include information about a counseling fund or other arrangements to ensure access to counseling services for abuse survivors.

k. Creating a culture that prevents abuse of power (Video Link: Discussion 28:00" - 58:37" K1-3: 28:00"-32:28" K4: -58:37")

  1. That synod refer this report to the Classis Renewal Advisory Group to consider how the role of regional pastors and church visitors might be strengthened to foster a respectful culture and support churches with early assistance in situations that may give rise to concerns about abuse of power. 

6. That synod take note of the annual report provided regarding classes that have implemented a Safe Church team, and progress by the remaining classes; also reported is the number of congregations that have Safe Church teams and policies (COD Supplement section II, A, 4 and Appendices D1 and D2, pp.55 and 56).

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