Adopted by the Ministry Leadership Team
December 12, 2010
1) Community & Individual Privileges. While openness to diversity is one of the prime values held by our congregation and expressed in our denomination's Purposes and Principles, we affirm the belief that our congregation must maintain a secure atmosphere where such openness can exist. Concern for the congregation as a whole must be given priority over the privileges and inclusion of the individual.
2) Purpose of Procedure. The following procedure shall guide us in actively and promptly addressing situations in which individuals' behavior threatens the emotional and/or physical security of our members and friends and all staff.
3) Confidentiality. While the church leadership cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality, the church will make every reasonable effort to maintain confidentiality by disclosing the identity of the individuals involved only on a “need-to-know” basis and as necessary to investigate and resolve the complaint. In cases where a person poses a threat to others his/her privacy/anonymity will not be maintained.
4) Significance. Since it is serious business to file a formal complaint against a participant in the church it should never be taken lightly. Every attempt should be made to resolve disruptive situations by addressing them directly, with compassion and concern, before resorting to the use of this procedure.
5) Immediate Response. When a person's disruptive behavior requires an immediate response, it will be undertaken by the minister and/or the leader of the group involved. This may include asking the offending person or persons to leave, or suspending the meeting or activity until it can safely be resumed.
5.a) If further assistance is required, the Police Department may be called. Anytime such actions are required and the Minister is not present, then the Minister and Chair of the Ministry Leadership Team must be notified as soon as is practical.
5.b) A follow-up letter or document detailing what steps must be taken by the offending party or parties before he/she/they may return to the activities involved will be sent by the Minister to the offending party or parties.
6) Ongoing Disruptions. For ongoing situations and those not requiring an immediate response, members can send to the Minister a written explanation of the disruptive behavior and its impact, from the person or people who witnessed it.
6.a) The Minister will determine whether he/she wishes to handle the situation privately, or request the formation of an ad hoc task force appointed by the Ministry Leadership Team to further investigate the matter. Members of this task force shall include the minister and at least two others from the congregation who may be drawn from the leadership of the Membership or Safe Congregation Ministry Teams or the Ministry Leadership Team itself.
6.b) When appropriate and whenever possible, the Minister will inform the person that a complaint has been filed and is being investigated.
7) Situations Are To Be Dealt With Individually. The Minister and/or the ad hoc task force will respond to situations as they arise, using their own judgment, without defining acceptable behavior in advance. The Minister or the ad hoc task force will respond on a case-by-case basis.
7.a) People and situations will be dealt with individually.
7.b) Stereotypes or stereotyping will be avoided.
7.c) The Minister or the ad hoc task force will collect any additional information required to obtain a complete picture of the situation and research any applicable laws.
7.d) When the ad hoc task force considers such information essential to performing its task, the Minister shall authorize funds to pay costs for a professional background check, to provide such facts as the correct identity of the person in question and records of past criminal activity involving threats, harassment, or actual harm to other persons or property.
8) Classifying the Offense. The following questions must be considered by the Minister or the task force:
8a) Dangerous: Is the individual the source of a threat or perceived threat to persons or property, including himself or herself?
8b) Disruptive: How much interference with church functions is occurring?
8c) Offensive: How likely is it that prospective or existing members will be driven away?
9) Context for the Offense. The following questions may be considered by the Minister or the task force:
9a) Causes: Why is this disruption occurring? Is it a conflict between the individual and others in the fellowship? Is it due to a professionally diagnosed condition of mental illness?
9b) History: What is the frequency and degree of disruption caused in the past?
9c) Probability of Change: How likely is it that the problem behavior will diminish in the future?
10) Disruptive Visitors: The following levels of response are options the Minister or the ad hoc task force can implement with a disruptive visitor:
10.a) No Action: It may be determined that the complaint is not warranted, and the minister will explain and discuss this with the person who filed the complaint.
10.b) Warning: The minister or a member of the task force shall meet with the offending individual to communicate the concern and expectations for future behavior.
10.c) Temporarily Barred: The offending individual is excluded from the congregation and/or specific activities for a limited period of time, with the reasons and the conditions of return made clear in writing.
10.d) Barred: The task force recommends that the offending individual be barred from the church, with the reasons made clear in writing and communicated to the Board as soon as practical. All decisions for expelling a disruptive visitor are final.
11) Disruptive Members: In the case of a member of the church engaging in offensive, disruptive, or dangerous behavior the Minister or the task force may consider taking these steps:
11.a) No Action: It may be determined that the complaint is not warranted, and the minister will explain and discuss this with the person who filed the complaint.
11.b) Warning: The minister or a member of the task force shall meet with the offending individual to communicate the concern and expectations for future behavior.
11.c) Request Suspension: The Minister or task force can ask the Board to vote to suspend the participation of the member and/or limit participation to specific activities for a limited period of time, with the reasons and the conditions of return made clear in writing.
11.d) Request Expulsion: The Minister or task force can ask the Board to vote that the offending individual should be expelled from the church. In this case, all policies outlined in the Bylaw §§ 7. Termination for Cause: “A member may also be terminated for cause when a person’s actions are contrary to the Congregation’s purposes and program by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Board with an appeal available to the Congregation, which may overturn a decision by the Board to terminate by a majority vote at a special or annual meeting.”
12) Harassment of Employees: In the case where a visitor or member is disruptive or dangerous to a staff member, the Direct Supervisor, Ministry Leadership Team and/or Board of Trustees will apply the procedures outlined in this document and/or follow the harassment polices as outlined in the Policy Governance and/or Personnel manuals.