Don't Do It!
Dear Woodview friends and family,
I imagine that for many of you what I share in this article isn't even on your radar...probably not even something you think about. For others, this might hit pretty close to home.
Over the past few months, one of the things that has been talked about a lot in ministry articles, blogs, and social media is predator behavior by people in the church. Recently, the Southern Baptist Convention put 10 of their churches on "probation" because of the way they failed to deal with sexual abuse in their churches. In the past, some of the marriage counseling I have done has centered around issues that surfaced concerning sexual abuse. In the last week someone shared with me they had been sexually abused by a family member years ago. About 10 years ago I was visiting one of our church's ladies who was a shut-in; she shared with me that when she was a little girl in our church the Sunday School Superintendent had abused her. And I heard a woman make the comment that she's not sure she knows a woman who hasn't been sexually abused in one way or another.
In this article I want to share with you Woodview's policies and practices to try to keep everyone safe, but particularly the steps we take to try to protect our children.
But the first thing that needs to be said is that hurting someone, damaging someone, or using someone for your own sinful and selfish desires is evil and sinful. Don't do it! If you have thoughts and inclinations toward predator behavior, learn and apply the lessons of Old Testament Joseph about how to run from sin! At Woodview, we have love and grace for sinners because we are all sinners...but we will not tolerate predators or predator behavior.
Our policies and procedures include but are not limited to:
1. Background checks for all staff and volunteers who work with children. This includes an agreement that background checks can be renewed annually or at Woodview's discretion.
2. At least 2 adults are to be in each of the children's classes. If the two adults are a married couple or relatives, this number becomes at least 3 adults.
3. Training for all adult workers on what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
4. Our child check-in is to make sure that the children are safe in the building, their location is known at all times, and that they are released only to authorized adults.
5. Our Security Team periodically walks through the children's areas and looks in rooms to make sure everyone is safe and guidelines are being followed.
6. All workers are trained to promptly notify their coordinator/supervisor of any violation of Woodview's policies and procedures by themselves or someone else.
7. Every allegation or suspicion of abuse or molestation will be taken seriously! Every ministry staff person is a Mandated Reporter so we will contact the appropriate authorities (we have and we will).
8. If the accused is an employee or a volunteer, they will immediately be removed from their position (staff positions will continue to be paid), pending the completion of the investigation.
9. Any person who is not found innocent of the alleged abuse or molestation will be permanently removed from working with children, youth, or the disabled. The church will consult with legal counsel for advice if termination of employment is indicated.
There are other parts to our policies and procedures that, if you'd like, you can read if you contact the office and ask for a copy of our Children's Ministry Workers Policy. But I simply share this with you today to assure you that Woodview takes the responsibility of keeping people safe seriously.
And let me also say that, if you have ever been a victim of abuse or sexual abuse, you are loved by Woodview and we will walk with you as you take steps to healthy healing on the path of recovery.
Jon B. Stradtner