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AC passes new sexual ethics, clergy assessment policies

By Jessica Brodie

Annual Conference passed two new policies Monday recommended by the South Carolina Board of Ordained Ministry: an eight-year clergy assessment plan policy to help with ministry effectiveness, and a sexual and professional misconduct policy for clergy and church staff.

The assessment plan is designed to help identify areas of effectiveness in ministry, said the Rev. Fran Elrod, chair of the conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Elrod said this will involve using an approved clergy assessment tool to not only look at clergy but also the effectiveness of the clergy’s ministry setting. Congregations will be expected to participate in an effective ministry process with their clergy, such as Forward Focus. A church facilitator/coach will be assigned and will work with the pastor and staff-pastor parish committee, with concerns addressed by the BOM if needed.

Elrod explained the assessment will involve a staggered process, rotating clergy through the eight-year assessment so all are not completing the assessment at the same time. The rotation system will be established by the Office of Clergy Services, the BOM and the Cabinet.

The sexual ethics policy is designed to help foster sacred trust and is meant to serve in partnership with Safe Sanctuaries policies, Elrod explained, and to bring the conference into alignment with Para. 605.9 of the Book of Discipline.

“The South Carolina Conference will not condone or tolerate instances of sexual or professional misconduct,” the policy reads in part. “We also will not condone or tolerate instances of sexual misconduct on the part of laity, including church members and visitors. We are committed to making every reasonable effort to prevent any such incidents, to a fair and just process for victims, to authentic accountability for abusers, and to healing for all persons involved. The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework for the prevention of sexual or professional misconduct and to establish guidelines for reporting and responding to incidences of sexual or professional misconduct, should they occur.”

The full policy is posted on the conference website at www.umcsc.org/ac2019.

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