A Resolution on Sexual Misconduct in the PC(USA)—From the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns.

On this Item, the Social Justice Issues Committee acted as follows:

Approve as Amended with Comments
The Assembly Committee on Social Justice Issues feels it is necessary to create a new task force as described in Recommendation 5. in order to take immediate and decisive action.

“The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) recommends that the 223rd General Assembly (2018):

     “1.  Direct the Stated Clerk to declare that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) confesses its failure to listen to the long-silenced voices of [victims] [survivors] of clergy sexual misconduct, repents its institutional sins of ineffective sexual misconduct policy, and commits to the deep systemic changes needed to create just systems.

     “2.  Text remains unchanged.

     “3.  Direct the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency to provide and, where necessary, develop pastoral, Trauma-Informed Clinical Care (TIC)1 based and theologically-grounded resources for healing [victims] [survivors] and their families, congregations, and presbyteries from sexual misconduct within the church, including:

          “a.     Text remains unchanged.

          “b.     Theological resources for healing the faith of primary and secondary [victims] [survivors] and congregations.

          “c. through e. Text remains unchanged.

     “4.  Text remains unchanged.

     “5.  Direct the General Assembly Nominating Committee (GANC), in consultation with the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC)[, “Safe and Sacred Space Task Force,”] and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP), to form a five-member task force composed of [victims] [survivors] and advocates for [victims] [survivors] of sexual misconduct. The task force will oversee the implementation of Recommendations 1. thru 4. while undertaking a comprehensive examination of Presbyterian policy, judicial process, and rules of discipline. It will evaluate the need for a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator within each presbytery and the collection of the number of sexual misconduct allegations and charges occurring within the bounds of the denomination. The task force will be staffed by both OGA and PMA, and will report back to the 224th General Assembly (2020) with recommendations on how the PC(USA) can be more effective in ensuring justice, accountability, and pastoral support for individuals, families, and congregations when charges of sexual misconduct have been made.”

Recommendation

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) recommends that the 223rd General Assembly (2018):

1.    Direct the Stated Clerk to declare that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) confesses its failure to listen to the long-silenced voices of victims of clergy sexual misconduct, repents its institutional sins of ineffective sexual misconduct policy, and commits to the deep systemic changes needed to create just systems.

2.    Direct the Stated Clerk, in conjunction with the declaration named in Recommendation 1, to commit the PC(USA) to complete transparency on the number of charges of sexual misconduct at all levels of congregational and denominational life and to encourage mid councils, while respecting confidentiality, to voluntarily submit the number of sexual misconduct allegations and charges within their bounds to the Stated Clerk to be reported to each General Assembly.

3.    Direct the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency to provide and, where necessary, develop pastoral, Trauma-Informed Clinical Care (TIC)[1] based and theologically-grounded resources for healing victims and their families, congregations, and presbyteries from sexual misconduct within the church, including:

a.            Healing resources that extend beyond individual victims to:

•      spouses and couples;

•      families and communities;

•      congregations and presbyteries.

b.            Theological resources for healing the faith of primary and secondary victims and congregations.

c.            Restorative justice resources for healing congregations and presbyteries.

d.            Culturally appropriate resources for the full diversity of PC(USA) congregations;

e.            Access to the resources of individuals and organizations with proven skills for healing from church sexual misconduct.

4.    Direct the Office of the General Assembly, the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Board of Pensions, the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program, Inc., the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, and the Presbyterian Foundation to provide mandatory, annual sexual misconduct training for their employees that include pastoral and Trauma-Informed Clinical Care resources along with legal resources, and that emphasize representing the denomination as a place of truth-telling, justice, accountability, and pastoral and theologically-grounded healing.

5.    Direct the General Assembly Nominating Committee (GANC), in consultation with the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP), to form a five-member task force composed of victims and advocates for victims of sexual misconduct. The task force will oversee the implementation of Recommendations 1. thru 4. while undertaking a comprehensive examination of Presbyterian policy, judicial process, and rules of discipline. It will evaluate the need for a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator within each presbytery and the collection of the number of sexual misconduct allegations and charges occurring within the bounds of the denomination. The task force will be staffed by both OGA and PMA, and will report back to the 224th General Assembly (2020) with recommendations on how the PC(USA) can be more effective in ensuring justice, accountability, and pastoral support for individuals, families, and congregations when charges of sexual misconduct have been made.

[1] “Trauma-informed: A trauma-informed approach to the delivery of behavioral health services includes an understanding of trauma and an awareness of the impact it can have across settings, services, and populations. It involves viewing trauma through an ecological and cultural lens and recognizing that context plays a significant role in how individuals perceive and process traumatic events, whether acute or chronic. In May 2012, SAMHSA convened a group of national experts who identified three key elements of a trauma-informed approach: ‘(1) realizing the prevalence of trauma; (2) recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved with the program, organization, or system, including its own workforce; and (3) responding by putting this knowledge into practice” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Trauma Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services (Rockville, MD: US Health and Human Services, 2012), 4, xix. <https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA14-4816/SMA14-4816.pdf> (15 February 2018).

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