When the Victim is a Clergy Person

If any clergy feels he/she has been subjected to racial, sexual, or other harassment or sexual misconduct, he or she should

  1. If the circumstances permit, state firmly and clearly to the alleged violator that this behavior is unwelcome and must stop. This action, in many cases, will resolve the issue.
  2. If the issue cannot be resolved through personal discussions with the alleged violator, the clergy must inform his/her immediate supervisor or, if the immediate supervisor is the alleged harasser, must contact the Chairperson of the Pastor/Staff Parish Relations Committee. In the case of sexual harassment, sexual abuse or sexual misconduct, if the clergyperson feels uncomfortable reporting the issue using the above procedure, he or she may bring the complaint directly to the District Superintendent. Employees should report any incident of abuse or misconduct in writing, if possible.

The clergy person who feels harassed by a lay person is encouraged to use the following procedures. If the offending behavior and complaint is sexual abuse or sexual misconduct then the immediate procedure is a formal complaint as outlined in The 2016 Book of Discipline paragraph 2703.3. Identifying sexual or gender harassment depends on a determination of what a reasonable person would perceive as unacceptable. It is important to resolve complaints confidentially and, if possible, informally.

Initial Resolution Process

  1. Clergy are responsible for establishing and maintaining clear boundaries of professional conduct.
  2. Therefore, a clergy person should respond immediately and clearly to the harasser that such behavior is unwelcome and uncomfortable.
  3. If the behavior continues:
    1. Avoid being alone with the harasser.
    2. Keep accurate records of the harassing behavior.
    3. Contact the chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee (if the Chair of the SPRC is the harasser then contact the District Superintendent directly).
    4. Notify the District Superintendent to begin the informal process for complaint resolution.
  4. The District Superintendent will contact the Director of Clergy Excellence, who will meet with the chair of the SPRC (or person designated) to explain the informal and formal process and introduce two advocates.

Informal Resolution Process

  1. After meeting with the Director of Clergy Excellence, the chair of SPRC (or a person designated) and the two advocates will form the intervention team and will meet separately with the clergy person and with the accused. The purpose of the meeting is to:
    1. Determine if the complaint is valid or a miscommunication or misunderstanding.
    2. Ask the accused to make an appropriate written statement to the clergy person. The written response may include explanation of the behavior resulting in a misperception of intent, an apology, and a promise not to repeat the behavior.
  2. If the clergy person finds the response satisfactory then the complaint will be considered as resolved, and the District Superintendent will be notified of the result.
  3. If the response of the accused is not satisfactory or the accused refuses to respond, then the complaint will move to the formal process and the District Superintendent and the Staff Parish Relations Committee will be notified that a formal process of complaint has been initiated. At any point during the informal process the clergy person, the accused or the SPRC committee may request in writing to the District Superintendent a formal resolution process.

Formal Resolution Process

  1. If the District Superintendent determines that the process outlined above has been followed and the complaint is not resolved, then the District Superintendent will appoint a committee on investigation according to paragraph 2703.3 in The 2016 Book of Discipline.
  2. The final decision of the committee will be communicated in writing to the clergy person, the accused and the Staff Parish Committee.