The Diocese of Christ our Hope (DCH) gratefully accepts the trust given by God to nurture and care for people through our congregations. In fulfilling this trust, we are committed to disciple children and youth in our ministries. However, to do this, we must also take particular care to defend and protect these young people. This policy will enable churches to do their best to fulfill this dual responsibility, leading younger people to lifelong faith and discipleship as followers of Jesus and doing all within our power to protect them from harm while under our care.
Children have an unusually formative place in the Christian understanding of human identity, the value of life, and the nature of the Gospel of grace itself. They are cherished as bearers of the image of God and are singled out by Jesus as models of trust, humility, and faith:
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
Additionally, Jesus issues a dire warning against harming children.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
These statements give ample reason for discipling and protecting children and youth. But in fact, this dual call is built on a comprehensive foundation of biblical truth.
Current statistics regarding child abuse are alarming. The effects of such abuse can damage children at the core of who they are and often follow them into adulthood. As the Church, we declare that we will work together to see that the proper love and care are extended to the children entrusted to us. We issue a call to establish a secure environment where the perfect love of God works to cast out all fear (1 John 4:18) and the nurture and love of God are made known to all, and in particular to our children and youth. In this way we can fulfill the biblical mandate to train up our children in the way they should go and we can make every effort to build a high wall against child abuse within the congregations of the Diocese of Christ our Hope.
Gratefully serving among you,
Bishop Steven A. Breedlove
For the purposes of this policy the following uses of these terms are in place. In addition, the Diocese has created a Glossary of Terms used throughout all documentation. This Diocesan Glossary is linked here for this Policy and any related terms: https://adhope.org/about-us/resources/
Bullying: Behavior that intimidates, humiliates, offends, degrades or harms another person, whether verbal, psychological, social, physical or otherwise.
Certified Adult or Certified Individual: An adult of the clergy, staff, vestry or volunteer who has completed the screening and training requirements as described in this policy. This certification is updated every 2 years.
Child Abuse: Any act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm. Individual states have specific laws defining these terms. Each state definition details are found here: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/state/
Child Protective Services (CPS): A social services program provided by state and local governments serving children and their families who are in need of assistance. CPS receives and investigates reports of suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation. The name of this organization may vary by state. Information about state and local agencies is found here:
Complainant(s): the alleged victim, or person making an accusation.
Confidential or Privileged Information: Information of a personal nature that has been shared with a member of the clergy, Ministry staff or volunteer leaders with the intention that such information not be shared with others, without prior permission.
Dean(s): For this Diocese, the Dean is an appointed member of clergy placed by the Bishop to assist in communication and fostering care to regional organizing of parishes in the Diocese.
Deanery/ies: For this Diocese, the Deanery is a defined group of regional churches within this Diocese. Deaneries within the Diocese are represented by Bishop appointed clergy as Deans.
The Diocese: In this document, this refers to the Diocese of Christ Our Hope (DCH) of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
Fellow(s)/Intern(s): adult college graduate interns who undergo a vetting process and application at the hosting parish. They serve in ministries at the church, in the community, and in local businesses.
Guardian(s): A court appointed adult to have custody of the child(ren) and the authority to make decisions concerning the child(ren)'s protection, education, care, discipline, etc.
Lay, Laity, Lay member, or Layperson: people distinct from clergy.
Mandated Reporter: A person who is required by state law to report reasonable suspicions of abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable populations to the appropriate state agency. State laws vary greatly. See Appendix A for your specific state laws.
Ministry Leader(s): Any clergy, staff or volunteer with leadership of any ministry within the parish. Though this individual is not the person with final authority, s/he must abide by the policies outlined in this document. Examples may include: Sunday school teachers, camp counselors and program team leaders that include anyone under 18.
Minor(s): All states define an "age of majority", usually 18. Persons younger than this age are considered minors, and must be under the care of a parent or guardian unless they are emancipated. Minors are treated differently from adults for many legal purposes. Check the state in which the parish is located to confirm coordination with local laws and this policy.
Off-site: Any location other than the sponsoring parish, parish office, institutional facility, or campus.
Parish: A local church congregation. Equivalent to church, or church plant or mission.
Program(s): Official activities and ministries sponsored by the Diocese or parish(es) (examples may include: Youth Event, mission experiences, camp programs, acolyte festivals, etc.).
Provisional Volunteer(s): a lay individual who has completed the full screening requirements and the online awareness training, but has not completed the synchronous Diocesan Policy Training hosted by their parish or Deanery. The training date is on record and they may work with a certified individual. A person shall hold provisional status for no more than 4 months.
Sexual Misconduct: a category of sex crimes that encompasses acts undertaken for sexual gratification against the will of another or without his or her permission. The exact acts encompassed by the crime vary significantly by state and require a careful reading of state statutes.
Staff: Any clergy or clergy-approved adult layperson, employed by the parish or regular, hourly paid worker. Though this individual may not be the person with final authority, he or she still must abide by this policy. Examples include: Youth Minister, Children’s Pastor, Family Life Director, etc. This also includes hourly paid staff such as Nursery Care support and babysitting.
Vestry/ies: A group of women and men who are elected by the congregation to manage the affairs of the church and function as a council of advice to the rector. In the absence of a rector, the vestry are the official representatives of the parish. This body may also be called the Board, Council, Leadership Team, or a similar name.
Volunteer(s): A Layperson who is not a paid member of the parish staff. In this document, when volunteer is used it is specifically referring to an adult lay person who is donating their time to work with minors. See “work with” definition and footnote for this document.
Warden(s): A Lay leader of the vestry. In many Anglican parishes there is a Senior Warden and a Junior Warden that assist the rector in overseeing the parish. Depending on the local parish, a Warden may have a different title such as Chairman, Vice Chairman, President, or similar title/role.
Works with: as stated in and throughout this policy means: any clergy, staff, vestry or volunteer individual that serves in or supports a ministry, program, guild, event, or function to or with minors where the minor is not in the immediate care and responsibility of their parent(s)/guardian(s)
The Bishop in consultation with the Canon for Ethics and Safeguarding creates the Ethics and Safeguarding Committee with representatives from each Deanery and other experts. The representative from each Deanery will serve as its Deanery Ethics Coordinator. Each Coordinator will be trained by the Canon for Ethics and Safeguarding annually in the first quarter. This group is responsible for the edits, communication, and training of the Diocesan Policy for the Protection of Children and other safeguarding content, under the authority and oversight of the Diocesan Council and the Bishop and in accordance with the canons of the Diocese.
From time to time, but not less than annually each July, the Committee will review and, if necessary, revise the policy in light of practical experiences, recommendations from clergy and leaders, medical and other scholarly research, legal developments, and other relevant considerations.
The Committee for Ethics and Safeguarding will meet quarterly per the schedule for the Document Review Plan, outlined in section G.2, Deanery Compliance Tracking.
The rector, not the Diocese or Province, has responsibility for the administration and application of this policy within the congregation he leads and for providing all compliance and reporting requested by the Diocese. In the absence of a rector, or in the case of church plants and missions, the Vicar, priest-in-charge, senior warden or other individual appointed by the Bishop will be responsible. Duties may be delegated, except in those areas specifically delineating action by the rector.
The Diocese and its parishes are committed to providing pastoral care to all affected by and involved with instances of abuse. Pastoral care grows out of Christ-centered relationships and proceeds with an awareness of the spiritual and emotional needs of both the individual and the community. Guidance, support, referrals, consolation, and confrontation may all be needed in order to minister to each individual as we believe God desires.
Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. (BCP, #66)
The Diocese will not tolerate any form of child abuse perpetrated or condoned by our clergy, staff, lay leaders, volunteers, or other congregants within our parishes. Everyone who serves the church through educational, pastoral, recreational or other activities is expected to maintain the highest biblical standards in relationships with those to whom they minister, avoiding any form of misconduct against children. That commitment extends to sexual behavior and all forms of child abuse.
No one in the employ or volunteer service of the Diocese or its parishes who has a civil or criminal record of child abuse, or who has admitted committing prior sexual abuse of a child, will be permitted to work with children or youth.
The Diocese member churches span across several states. Child Abuse reporting laws that are specific to each state can be found here.
The Diocese of Christ Our Hope (DCH), requires each congregation, parish, church, mission, and church plant to have the following policy procedures in place. This policy applies to a parish in DCH even if there are no children. Therefore, the Diocese and its parishes commit to creating a positive and healthy environment for children and youth through the 5-step approach:
One effective means of reducing the incidence of child abuse is to carefully and professionally screen all clergy, vestry, staff and volunteers who work with minors. The Diocese requires the following screening and background checks for all canonically resident and licensed clergy as well as vestry, staff, and volunteers who work with children and youth.
Screening clergy is the responsibility of the Diocese and is a matter of permanent record. Careful screening of clergy is conducted initially during the ordination processes and is maintained throughout the ministry of the clergy under Diocesan oversight. In addition, any clergy transferring from another diocese within the ACNA will provide records of any background check within the past two years and undergo further normative DCH screening processes. This clergy screening process includes:
Reviewing this policy with each clergy and requiring each clergy to sign and submit Policy Acknowledgement Form found on the Diocese website: https://adhope.org/protect-our-children/.
The screening of employees/staff, interns, fellows, vestry, and volunteers who work with minors is the responsibility of the individual church. [NOTE: Each state has age limit laws for paid employment. Please check these age limits if the parish is hiring a minor. The Diocese recommends that youth below 6th grade should not be hired or volunteer. Youth in the sixth grade or beyond may volunteer with two unrelated certified individuals and may be utilized for ratio purposes if they are 4 years older than the oldest child present.]
Careful screening of staff, paid child care workers, interns, fellows, vestry and volunteers is required for any worker to become certified and includes:
Training is also an important deterrent to child abuse. Training clergy, staff, vestry, and volunteers that work with children and youth creates communities that become more aware of behaviors that can lead to abuse. These individuals must be trained to recognize the warning signs of potential abuse as well as to learn the procedures for reporting abuse and suspected abuse. They also must become familiar with safe practices designed to reduce the potential for abuse occurring.
DCH requires that all members of the clergy, vestry, and staff and paid workers must certify that they have read, understood and accepted the DCH Child Protection Policy and Manual and sign an acknowledgement form of the same.
Every two years, all clergy, vestry, staff, and volunteers who work with minors must be certified by completing the following two training requirements:
A certified individual (or certified adult) has completed the full screening and training requirements as stipulated in this policy. In the event that an individual has completed the screening requirements and the online awareness training as outlined in this section, this person will have Provisional volunteer status. As such, this person may volunteer with a certified individual until their training is complete. This person must complete their policy training within 4 months.
Each rector is responsible to track and document the training/retraining of its vestry, staff and volunteers. Rectors are responsible to submit to the Canon for Ethics and Safeguarding evidence of completed training annually. The rector has access to the support and resources of the Deanery Safeguarding Coordinator for this annual verification. The rector may delegate a staff or vestry member to administer this for their parish. This member’s name will be provided to the Canon for Ethics and Safeguarding.
These interacting guidelines and procedures are intended to help children and adults feel safe in ministry and help detect problems before they turn into an incident of abuse.
Clergy, staff, vestry, volunteers working with children and youth, while in the presence of children or their parent(s)/guardian(s), during church-sponsored activities, or while working with or supervising children at any venue should not: use tobacco products, possess or use any illicit or illegal drugs, be under the influence of alcohol or use alcohol, or share/view pornographic materials.
Interactions, verbal and non-verbal, between clergy, staff, vestry or volunteers should be positive and uplifting, reflecting the fruits of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-26. Staff and volunteers should strive to keep verbal interactions encouraging and constructive, and should be mindful of their mission of aiding a parent(s)/guardian(s) in the spiritual growth and development of children.
To this end, clergy, staff, and volunteers should avoid talking to children or parent(s)/guardian(s) in a way that is, or may be construed by any reasonable observer as, harsh, threatening, intimidating, shaming, derogatory, demeaning, or humiliating. In addition, clergy, staff, and volunteers are expected to refrain from swearing in the presence of children. Concerns about children should be directed to parent(s)/guardian(s), the appropriate ministry leader(s), or clergy.
Clergy, staff, vestry and volunteers should avoid engaging in any sexually-oriented communications with children, (except as noted in abuse reporting contexts), and should refrain from discussing any inappropriate or explicit information about their own personal relationships, dating, or sexual activities with any child or youth or displaying any sexual behavior.
Clergy, staff, and volunteers may employ (subject to limitations imposed by the rector or rector’s designee) age-appropriate materials when leading discussions dealing with human sexuality/sexual abuse prevention/sexual purity. Any prospective material may be made available for review for the parent(s)/guardian(s) of participants. Prior to introducing these materials, notice should be provided to parent(s)/guardian(s) in order to allow an opt-out if there are concerns or objections.
In the event that a parish in the Diocese has an identified or previously identified Registered Offender in their community, the following steps will be taken to provide safety for the parish:
If possible, medication should be administered by the child’s parent(s)/guardian(s). Medication may be given to a child by staff or a volunteer as authorized by the parent(s)/guardian(s). The medication must be in the original packaging, including over-the-counter medication. First Aid kits must be available where activities take place. When medically necessary, medication or first aid may be given to a child by staff or a volunteer consistent with the Supervisory Plan. Parent(s)/guardian(s) will be notified whenever medication or first aid has been administered.
The parish, not the Diocese, controls and manages the home groups/small groups that meet within their ministry context. The care and protection of children in such settings is always the responsibility of the parent(s)/guardian(s) of each child, and the mandatory reporting laws of the state in which the group meets apply. parishes are recommended, as much as practicable, to encourage the application of this Policy in any home/small group that meets within their ministry context.
Certain children and youth ministry events and activities may require overnight sleeping arrangements. These events will have a detailed Supervisory Plan that is communicated to parent(s)/guardian(s) for all youth and children’s overnight events (including lock-ins, mission trips, camps, retreats and other ministry that involves overnight stays), the following procedures shall be adhered to:
Photos and/or videos of minors will not be used contrary to the wishes of the parent(s)/guardian(s). Churches will refrain from posting any personally identifying information about children pictured online or in print publications without prior written permission from the parent(s)/guardian(s). This is easily handled by including a consent statement on programming registrations that are signed by the parent(s)/guardian(s).
Those who serve, whether as clergy, staff, vestry or volunteers, maintain a powerful relationship of authority and trust with the people to whom they minister. Betrayal of that trust through violation of physical and/or sexual boundaries causes great emotional and spiritual harm. Such misconduct is a denial of our calling as Christians and may be a violation of the law. We must take every step to prevent it, and to respond with swift action should misconduct occur.
Physical contact should be for the benefit of the child, and never be based upon the emotional needs of clergy, staff, vestry or volunteers. It is the diocesan policy that clergy, staff, vestry and volunteers are prohibited from using physical discipline in any manner.
Appropriate physical interaction between staff or volunteers and children is important for children’s development and is generally suitable in the church setting. The following general standards of physical interaction with children shall be carefully followed at all times.
Appropriate interactions may include:
Clergy, staff, vestry and volunteers are responsible for protecting children under their supervision from inappropriate or unwanted touch by others (this includes unwanted touch from other children/youth).
Inappropriate physical interactions are those behaviors that present an imbalance in the power dynamic for a child with an adult or older child. Peer to peer child abuse is on the rise. With this rising statistic, clergy, staff, vestry and volunteers need to be vigilant to observe peer to peer child interactions as well as physical interactions between adults and children.
Interactions that are not monitored visually or audibly by certified individuals working with minors can create spaces for grooming behaviors. Abusers will use grooming techniques to gain trust and break down natural and healthy relational and physical barriers. Grooming usually includes gaining access through trust, targeting a particular type of person as a possible victim, slowly eroding boundaries, and employing methods to keep the child from reporting the grooming behaviors. Therefore the following interactions with minors are prohibited in this policy:
Any inappropriate behavior, grooming behavior, abuse, or suspected misconduct by clergy, staff or volunteers must be reported immediately to the ministry leader and rector. If there is suspicion of abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect or abuse of any other nature, contact local authorities and then the rector. If the concern involves the rector, the Senior Warden, the Bishop Ordinary will be notified.
StStaff and/or volunteers in the Children's Ministry are responsible for releasing children in their care at the close of services or activities only to parent(s)/guardian(s), or other persons designated by parent(s)/guardian(s). It is presumed that a person who drops off a child or student has authority to pick up the child. In the event that staff or volunteers are uncertain of the propriety of releasing a child, they should immediately contact their ministry leader or rector before releasing the child.
Nursery Aged and Special Needs Children
Parent(s)/guardian(s) should take their child to the restroom or change any diapers immediately before a child is checked into a classroom. Because preschool, nursery, and special needs children may require complete assistance with their bathroom activities, staff and volunteers will observe the following policies:
Elementary Aged Children
We recognize that contemporary cultural trends and attitudes about gender and sexual ethics are complex and rapidly changing. The parish may find students wrestling with issues around gender fluidity, gender dysphoria, same-sex attraction or other situations which may challenge the existing policies. These situations may require specific knowledge or understanding so the church can care for individual students in a loving and caring community setting. In consultation with the Bishop, the rector (and the ministry staff under his oversight) is responsible for local adaptation around specific ministry situations and with regards to suitable protection practices that embody DCH guiding values.
Digital communications, virtual gatherings and Social Media have the potential to empower ministry. And yet, these powerfully connective tools are subject to the same dynamic of unequal power and potential for abuse that present a risk in all ministry relationships. Behavior in the digital sphere is never private and posted content may be used out of context putting individuals and churches at risk. Churches face the challenge of identifying and proactively addressing areas of potential risk in social media in the midst of rapidly evolving technology. The following guidelines are designed to be a flexible template for developing policies and covenants governing the safe use of social media and digital communication in ministry settings.
Required Minimum Guidance
Recommended Practices and Guidelines
As Christians, we are encouraged to seek discipleship opportunities across a generational spectrum, including catechesis, general Christian discipleship, mentoring, and coaching. There are many programs for discipling children and youth as a normal part of the ministry of the church. Discipling frequently leads to long term 1:1, 1:2, or 1:3 relationships where participants meet regularly. Long-term discipleship/mentoring is defined as more than five meetings.
If mentoring and discipleship with child(ren) or youth is agreed upon with the parent(s)/guardian(s), adhere to the following safeguards:
Clergy, staff and volunteers may from time to time be in a position to provide transportation for children and youth. The following guidelines are required for transporting children and youth within ministry purposes:
Monitoring helps detect problems before they turn into an incident of abuse and helps adults avoid wrongful allegations of abuse where none has occurred. Clergy, staff, vestry and volunteers must be diligent in monitoring and supervising children and youth ministries in all settings at all times. NOTE: Offsite activities increase the risk of abuse due to changes in venue and lack of familiarity with the space/environment. Due consideration should be taken to become familiar with the intricacies of any offsite physical setting by ministry and church leaders.
The Supervisory Plan details for clergy, staff and volunteers the specific plan to manage safety measures at the parish for a ministry activity. It is recommended that a copy of the Supervisory Plans be provided to and signed by those responsible for ministry leadership for the activity, program, ministry, or event (this may be a staff member or volunteer) and that the plan be accessible.
Sponsored On-Site events Supervisory Plans should include:
Sponsored Off-site Supervisory Plans should include the following:
Description of the nature of the activity;
Details of the registration process and a sample registration form;
Personnel responsible for running the activity;
Due to the nature of the facilities and shared ministry, the situation might arise where the church facilities are used by non-sponsored groups for activities and events (such as TrailLife, Young Life, or the Boy Scouts, or parties, receptions, etc.). These events may choose to offer childcare on their own, utilizing the facilities available. All churches should consult their insurance policy regarding these types of activities and to be compliant with the restrictions and recommendations in that insurance policy. It is also recommended that all churches use a Facilities Agreement that clearly articulates the outside organization’s responsibility and liability for their program and volunteers/employees for every instance of an outside group using the church’s facilities.
Admittedly, no matter how thorough and detailed Diocesan safeguarding policies and procedures are, no matter how compliant parishes are, no matter how outstanding the screening, training, interacting, monitoring, reporting, and responding procedures are, tragic, damaging things may happen to people under our care. It is, therefore, important to select the right insurance policy, customized to your specific needs, that will enable each parish to provide its best safeguarding procedures and have needed resources in case something tragic occurs.
It is recommended that each church have an Ethics and Safeguarding Committee (or similar risk management team) to oversee insurance selection and to ensure adherence to this policy and other child safety best practices for their parish. It is recommended that each parish should have sexual misconduct coverage in their insurance policy as well.
There are useful resources for Risk Management and other related documents from the ACNA and Brotherhood Mutual found here: https://www.brotherhoodmutual.com/working-together/
To better hold accountability for the training and implementation of this Child Protection Policy and Manual, each Deanery in DCH will have an Ethics and Safeguarding Coordinator. This person will be on the Ethics and Safeguarding Committee for the Diocese under the Canon for Ethics and Safeguarding. This individual will also be the trainer to follow up with training and background requirements for volunteers and staff, as well as, training churches and leaders on safeguarding children and youth.
The Ethics and Safeguarding Coordinator from the Deaneries will:
This Policy, any updates and changes, and all other Ethics and Safeguarding Policies, will be presented to the Diocesan Council for approval.
The Diocesan process to update this and other related policies will follow this timeline:
Churches, not the Diocese or the ACNA, are responsible for obtaining and keeping documentation of the following items in a secured location, in perpetuity, which includes evidence of the following.
It is acceptable to save electronic copies of scanned documents in a secure location. Each parish will have an individual who catalogs the details below and confirms annually the status of compliance:
Responding & Reporting