Response and Prevention Both

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I was happy see the CRC highlighted by The Hope of Survivors, an organization dedicated to assisting survivors of pastoral sexual abuse and misconduct. You can see the complete interview, which is available on the Hope of Survivors website.

The CRC has a carefully developed, approved process for handling allegations of abuse by a church leader. It’s easy to imagine how it could work to bring justice and to set the stage for healing to begin. It almost sounds like we’ve got this thing figured out. Yet the stories of real churches present a contrasting picture.

The process can be compromised or not even used (it’s only a suggested guideline). Situations are complicated, messy, painful, and the results have been far from satisfying, especially for those who have been victimized.

Recently, I was at St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt, Michigan, sitting around a table with others representing various denominations; Methodist, Lutheran, and others. We were gathered to design a healthy boundary training workshop for pastors as part of an SPE (Sustaining Pastoral Excellence) initiative.

We went around the table, each sharing our denomination’s requirements for pastors around the issue of boundaries. Several denominations shared a code of ethical conduct for pastors. Several require ongoing training in healthy boundaries, every three to five years. The CRC has no such requirements. As I looked over the information, I thought of the devastating situations that may have been prevented if the CRC had similar standards in place.

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I agree whoeheartedly that boundary training is crucial for pastors.  Also a code of ethical conduct would help give some important information to pastors, church leaders and congregations which could prevent anyone from becoming the victim of any power or control issues within the church family.