(From the January 2012 edition of HopeSpeak)
Denomination: The United Methodist Church (UMC)
Does the organization have a clergy sexual abuse policy in place? If yes, where can this policy be found (provide URL, mailing address if a copy must be requested, etc.)?
Yes, The United Methodist Church has a policy against sexual misconduct within ministerial relationships: “Anyone who works or volunteers under the authority or auspices of the Church must be held to the highest standards of behavior, free of sexual misconduct in any form.” (Book of Resolutions 2008, p. 135). LINK:
How/where can victims or members of the congregation find out about the policy and proper procedures for reporting abuse? Is there a specific person or office to contact?
The UMC recognizes that sexual misconduct by a minister leader is a violation of the sacred trust of the ministerial office, an abuse of power, and a breach of fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of those we serve. Clergy sexual abuse is contrary to Paul’s exhortation to build up one another as members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:24 and 12:26).
Each annual (regional) conference of the UMC is responsible for maintaining its own policies and procedures for responding to sexual abuse by ministerial leaders. Reports of sexual abuse in the UMC should be made in writing to the resident bishop. Suspected child sexual abuse should also be reported as required by state law. For a list of annual conferences and bishops, see http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.5326735/k.925D/FindABishop.htm.
Additionally, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women in the UMC assists persons in reporting abuse in the UMC: 800-523-8390. Additional information is available at www.umsexualethics.org.
Does your organization’s policy include the abuse of vulnerable adults, as well as children?
Yes, the UMC’s policies address the abuse of children and adults. For policies regarding children and youth, see the Safe Sanctuaries program guidelines: http://umsexualethics.org/LocalChurches/SafeSanctuaries.aspx.
Submitted By and Position:
Darryl W. Stephens
Assistant General Secretary for Advocacy and Sexual Ethics
General Commission on the Status and Role of Women
The United Methodist Church
77 W. Washington Street, Suite 1009
Chicago, IL 60602