Silence Is Not Always Golden...
especially when it covers up sexual misconduct, harassment or abuse.
The Kentucky Conference and its local churches have policies that protect each person - male and female members of the congregation, church staff, and clergy - from disrespectful and abusive behavior within the church.
"God has told you what is good; and what is it that the Lord asks of you? Only to do justice, and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8
What United Methodists need to know about sexual misconduct involving...
Lay Leadership in positions of responsibility
Q: What is sexual misconduct?
A: Sexual misconduct is an abuse of power through sexual harassment, contact or activity (not limited to sexual intercourse) in which one person violates the free choice or abuses the vulnerability of another.
Sexual misconduct is exploitative, abusive and a violation of ethics.
- It is a violation of role.
- It is a misuse of authority and power.
- It is taking advantage of vulnerability.
- It is the absence of meaningful consent.
The 1992 United Methodists' Book of Resolutions (page 449) states that sexual harassment is "any unwanted sexual advance or demand, either verbal or physical, which is perceived by the recipient as demeaning, intimidating or coercive. It must be understood as an exploitation of a power relationship, rather than as an exclusively sexual issue."
Sexual misconduct can include physical contact, verbal behavior or any crossing of boundaries (not limited to sexual intercourse).
Q: How do you know if boundaries have been crossed?
A: You will know your boundaries have been crossed when you feel uncomfortable and confused with the interaction, even if you were initially flattered.
Q: Why is it wrong?
A: Sexual misconduct occurs when anyone (including clergy, diaconal, professional staff or lay) engages in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with a parishioner, employee, student or counseling client. This behavior in a pastoral setting breaks the sacred trust inherent in ordination for clergy, consecration for diaconal or responsibility of office for local pastors and lay leadership (elected or assumed).
Q: What should you do if you believe you are a victim of sexual misconduct within the church?
A: Call the Kentucky Conference Advocacy Access Line, (877) 852-5250 (Toll Free) for information and guidance.
"The Advocacy Access Line is a ministry provided by the Annual Conference to anyone impacted by ministerial sexual misconduct. The line is available as an effort by the conference to assure its care for all parties impacted by sexual misconduct. The Advocate Access Line is a confidential line that notifies an advocate that a call has been received. The advocate will attempt to respond within 24 hours. The line offers a compassionate ear without judgment or partiality and offers options for further care if requested; however, the advocate does not act as a professional therapist for the caller. An advocate may also explain the stages of the complaint process if the caller chooses to pursue a complaint."
All calls for advocates or information are treated with confidentiality.