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I Need to Make a Report

 

Report of Abuse or Misconduct in the PC(USA)
Teaching Elders/Ministers of Word and Sacrament
Teaching Elders/Ministers Who Are Retired
Teaching Elders/Ministers Who Are Deceased
Ruling Elders
Deacons
Members of Congregations
Employees or Volunteers of a Church Council (congregation, session, synod)
Employees of PC(USA) Agency
Mission Co-Workers
Reporting Procedure for Mission Co-Workers in World Mission or their Family Members
Minister/Pastor/Spiritual Leader Who Is Not Affiliated with the PC(USA)
Information for Councils That Receive Reports
Professors and other Employees of a Presbyterian Seminary
Professors and other Employees of an Affiliated Presbyterian College/University
Students of an Affiliated Presbyterian College/University/Seminary

I need to report abuse or misconduct!

If you are a victim of abuse or misconduct and you need to make a report, you can contact the PC(USA) Helpline for assistance: (866) 607-7233. When you call you will speak with a trained professional who will help guide you onto a path so that you can make a report.

If you know the PC(USA) title or position of the person about whom you need to make a report, you can use the guidelines offered under the button “Report of Abuse or Misconduct in the PC(USA).” Under that button you will find guidance on how to make a report and to what council of the PC(USA).

If you are a council which receives a report of abuse or misconduct and you need guidance, please click the button “Information for Councils That Receive Reports.”

I received a report of abuse or misconduct

If you are a witness or received a report of abuse or misconduct and you need to make a report, you can contact the PC(USA) Helpline for assistance (866) 607-7233. When you call you will speak with a trained professional who will help guide you onto a path so that you can make a report.

If you know the PC(USA) title or position of the person about whom you need to make a report, you can use the guidelines offered under the button “Report of Abuse or Misconduct in the PC(USA).” Under that button you will find guidance on how to make a report and to what council of the PC(USA).

If you are a council which receives a report of abuse or misconduct and you need guidance, please click the button “Information for Councils That Receive Reports.”

My council received a report of abuse or misconduct

If you are a council which receives a report of abuse or misconduct and you need guidance, please click the button “Information for Councils That Receive Reports.”

If your council receives a report of abuse or misconduct you can contact the PC(USA) Helpline for assistance (866) 607-7233. When you call you will speak with a trained professional who will help guide you onto a path about how to respond to a report of abuse or misconduct and can provide you with helpful resources concerning how to respond.

Report of Abuse or Misconduct in the PC(USA)

If you know the title or position of the person about whom you want to make a report about, look at the list below for more specific information and guidance about how to make a report. If you do not know the title or position of the person, seek help by contacting the PC(USA) Helpline [bookmark back to the top of the page] at (866) 607-7233 or contact the Manager/Judicial Process and Social Witness of the Office of the General Assembly 800-728-7228 ext. 5432 (flor.velez-diaz@pcusa.org). If you go down the list of guidance and information and do not find what you need, please call the PC(USA) Helpline [bookmark back to the top of the page].

Teaching Elders/Ministers of Word and Sacrament

In the PC(USA), ministers are also known as teaching elders. Ministers are not members of a church. Ministers are members of a presbytery and are under the jurisdiction of their presbytery. A minister’s presbytery will accept and respond to reports of abuse or misconduct. You can make a report of abuse or misconduct to the Stated Clerk of the minister’s presbytery.

If a minister is an active worship leader in a church, it is likely that minister is a member of the presbytery where that church is located. You can find a list of churches and their presbyteries here. If you are not sure which is the correct presbytery to contact, please contact: Manager/Judicial Process and Social Witness of the Office of the General Assembly 800-728-7228 ext. 5432 (flor.velez-diaz@pcusa.org).

Each presbytery has its own abuse and misconduct policies and procedures. All allegations of abuse or misconduct against Presbyterian ministers are handled according to the procedures set out in the Book of Order, which is part of the Constitution of the PC(USA). You can find those rules here.

When the stated clerk of the presbytery receives a written allegation of offense, the presbytery will decide whether to appoint a team to investigate the allegation. This team has one year to decide on behalf of the presbytery whether to file charges within the PC(USA) judicial system against the alleged offender. Click here for the Mid Council directory.

Teaching Elders/Ministers Who Are Retired

If you know that the Teaching Elder/minister who you need to report on is retired, you can still attempt to contact the presbytery with jurisdiction over that person. Even in retirement a Teaching Elder continues to be a member of a presbytery, which has jurisdiction of the Teaching Elder and will receive and respond to a report of abuse or misconduct.

Teaching Elders/Ministers Who Are Deceased

If you know that the Teaching Elder/minister who you need to report is deceased, you can make a report to the presbytery that had jurisdiction over that person at the time that person died. That presbytery will receive and respond to a report of abuse or misconduct.

Ruling Elders

Ruling Elders are members of church congregations who are elected to be members of the Session of that church. The Session includes Teaching Elder/ministers and Ruling Elders. If you are a victim of or witness to abuse or misconduct committed by a Ruling Elder of a church affiliated with the PC(USA), you should report the abuse or misconduct to the Clerk of Session of Session of that church or the minister who is the head of staff. If you are not sure who the Clerk or head of staff are, please call or email the church office for assistance.

Deacons

Deacons are members of church congregations who are elected to provide pastoral care and support to members of a congregation and visitors. If you are a victim of or witness to abuse or misconduct committed by a Deacon of a church affiliated with the PC(USA), you should report the abuse or misconduct to the Clerk of Session of Session of that church or the minister who is the head of staff. If you are not sure who the Clerk or head of staff are, please call or email the church office for assistance.

Members of Congregations

If you are a victim of or witness to abuse or misconduct by a member a church affiliated with the PC(USA), you should report the abuse or misconduct to the Session of that church. Report the abuse or misconduct to the Clerk of Session of Session of that church or the minister who is the head of staff. If you are not sure who the Clerk or head of staff are, please call or email the church office for assistance.

Employees or Volunteers of a Church Council (congregation, session, synod)

If you are a victim of or witness to abuse or misconduct by an employee or volunteer who is affiliated with a PC(USA) council, but who is not a Teaching Elder/minister, you should report the abuse or misconduct to the employer. That would be the church, presbytery or synod where the person works or volunteers.

Employees of PC(USA) Agency

The PC(USA) has six agencies: (1) the Presbyterian Mission Agency; (2) the Office of the General Assembly; (3) the Presbyterian Foundation; (4) the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program; (5) the Board of Pensions; and (6) the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. If you are a victim of or witness to abuse or misconduct by an employee or volunteer who is affiliated with one of those agencies, you should report the abuse or misconduct to the employer. When you call you should ask for the Human Resources Department of that agency.

If the employee is also a member of a PC(USA) congregation, a Teaching or Ruling Elder in the PC(USA) or a Deacon, look at the other headings on this list which explain how to make a report about them to a council that is not their employer.

Mission Co-Workers

If you are a mission co-worker who is a victim of or witness to sexual misconduct in your mission field, you can make a report to the PCUSA Helpline at (866) 607-7233. The Mission Co-Worker Handbook also provides that mission co-workers who know of or become aware of discrimination, harassment, or perceived harassment, whether or not that Mission Co-Worker is the victim or target of the discrimination or harassment, should report it immediately to his/her Regional Liaison, Area Coordinator, or the Mission Personnel Team Coordinator.

Reporting Procedure for Mission Co-Workers in World Mission or their Family Members

If you are a mission co-worker who is a victim of or witness to abuse or misconduct in your mission field, you can make a report to the PC(USA) Helpline at (866) 607-7233.

Minister/Pastor/Spiritual Leader Who Is Not Affiliated with the PC(USA)

Some ministers/pastors or spiritual leaders who work or serve in the PC(USA) are not affiliated with the PC(USA). They are affiliated with another denomination (ex. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Reformed Church of America, the United Church of Christ). If they are employed by a council or agency of the PC(USA) you can make a report of their abuse or misconduct to that employer.

In addition, there is likely a process to make a report of abuse or misconduct to their denomination. If you are not sure how to make such a report contact the PC(USA) Helpline at (866) 607-7233 or contact the Manager/Judicial Process and Social Witness of the Office of the General Assembly 800-728-7228 ext. 5432 (flor.velez-diaz@pcusa.org).

Information for Councils That Receive Reports

The Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) requires that each council have its own sexual misconduct policy and a separate child and youth protection policy. (G-3.0106, Book of Order)

Teaching and ruling elders, deacons and certified Christian educators are mandated to report to civil and ecclesiastical authorities when there is reasonable suspicion of child abuse.  (G-4.0302, Book of Order). Click here [link to PowerPoint] to download a PowerPoint which further explains mandatory reporting in the PC(USA).

The Book of Order defines sexual abuse of another person, which is a form of sexual misconduct, as:

any offense involving sexual conduct in relation to:

  • any person under the age of eighteen years or anyone over the age of eighteen years without the mental capacity to consent; or
  • any person when the conduct includes force, threat, coercion, intimidation, or misuse of ordered ministry of position.

(D-10.0401(c), Book of Order). Charges of sexual abuse may be brought under the Book of Order regardless of the date on which the offense is alleged to have occurred. (D-10.0401(b))

All responses to reports of abuse or misconduct will follow the procedures set out in the Book of Order, Rules of Discipline in the Book of Order and any employment policies of the local church. For additional information please contact the Manager/Judicial Process and Social Witness of the Office of the General Assembly 800-728-7228 ext. 5432 (flor.velez-diaz@pcusa.org).

When you receive a report of abuse or misconduct, listening to someone reveal their own experience is never a comfortable conversation. The victim has trusted you enough to share this secret: it is critical that in your reaction you affirm the victim and be supportive.

The following suggestions can help you respond appropriately.

  • Listen carefully and attentively.
  • Avoid the temptation to assess the truthfulness of the disclosure; that is the job of trained professionals.
  • Assure the person/child the alleged abuse was not his/her fault; he or she did not cause it, no matter what the abuser may have said or done.
  • Reassure the person/child that he or she did the right thing in coming to you.
  • Write down what was told to you so that you can pass accurate information on to those investigating the abuse.

Adapted from Preventing Child Abuse: A Guide for Churches, by Beth Swagman. Grand Rapids, MI: CRC Publications, 1997.

If you have questions concerning reports of abuse or misconduct, how to respond, processes in the Book of Order or related issues, please contact the Manager/Judicial Process and Social Witness of the Office of the General Assembly 800-728-7228 ext. 5432 (flor.velez-diaz@pcusa.org).

Professors and other Employees of a Presbyterian Seminary

If you are a victim of or witness to sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, by an employee or third party, including professor colleagues, who are affiliated with a PCUSA or other seminary, you should report the misconduct to your employer. It is likely the employee handbook for your employer has an anti-harassment policy and information concerning reporting, which is usually done through the human resources department. If the harasser is a Teaching Elder, you can also report the misconduct to the presbytery which has jurisdiction over that Teaching Elder.

Professors and other Employees of an Affiliated Presbyterian College/University

If you are a victim of or witness to sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, by an employee or third party, including professor colleagues, who are affiliated with a PCUSA-affiliated or other college or university, you should report the misconduct to your employer. It is likely the employee handbook for your employer has an anti-harassment policy and information concerning reporting, which is usually done through the human resources department. If the harasser is a Teaching Elder, you can also report the misconduct to the presbytery which has jurisdiction over that Teaching Elder.

Students of an Affiliated Presbyterian College/University/Seminary

If you are a victim of or witness to sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, by an employee or third party, including professors or teachers, who are affiliated with a PCUSA-affiliated or other college or university or seminary, you should report the misconduct to your school. It is likely the school has a handbook or other documents which include anti-harassment policies and information concerning reporting. If the harasser is a Teaching Elder, you can also report the misconduct to the presbytery which has jurisdiction over that Teaching Elder.

Mandatory Reporting Powerpoint presentation

Polity Piece – Reporting Abuse


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