by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
Recently, an administrator at a Mennonite-related institution (Luke Hartman, vice president of enrollment at Eastern Mennonite University) was one of ten individuals charged with solicitation of prostitution, in a sting operation conducted by the Harrisonburg Police Department and Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office. (https://themennonite.org/daily-news/emu-vice-president-charged-in-sting-operation/). I do not intend to comment on the details of this case, but to use this as an occasion to reaffirm the importance of being pro-active in in preventing and responding to sexual violence of any kind – whether it be human trafficking, prostitution, or sexual misconduct and abuse in our institutions, churches and families.
As part of WDC’s accountability plan, credentialed leaders are requested to participate in prevention of sexual misconduct training, annually sign a code of sexual ethics for ministers and report how they maintain healthy boundaries and accountability in their life and ministry. Mennonite Church USA Ministerial Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures, which are currently being revised and updated, provide guidelines for responding to allegations of sexual misconduct. WDC also encourages congregations to establish “safe sanctuary” policies and practices to prevent sexual abuse. In the past, WDC has sponsored regular training events for this purpose, and staff will work with the Resource Commission to plan for such events again in the future as soon as possible. The WDC Resource Library has many good materials related to issues of justice and power, sexuality, and prevention of abuse.
Here are several additional resources to consider:
– Dove’s Nest is an organization whose mission is to empower and equip faith communities to keep children and youth safe in their homes churches and communities. See their website at http://dovesnest.net
– A Churchwide Statement on Sexual Abuse was passed by Mennonite Church USA delegate assembly, July 3, 2015 at Kansas City. See http://mennoniteusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Churchwide_Statement_On_Sexual_Abuse_2015July03.pdf
– In response to the church-wide statement, a sex abuse prevention panel was established to carry out the commitments of this statement. For more information see:
http://mennoniteusa.org/noticias/se-forma-un-panel-para-la-prevencion-del-abuso-sexual/ (Spanish) or http://mennoniteusa.org/news/sexual-abuse-prevention-panel-formed/ (English)
– SNAP-Menno is an independent Anabaptist/Mennonite chapter of SNAP (Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests). For more information see http://www.snapnetwork.org/mennonite It provides a safe place, independent of institutional structures, for Mennonite-related survivors to seek healing alongside other Anabaptist Mennonites. Its mission is to “protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded, expose the truth.”
As people called to justice and peace, may we continue to promote these crucial principles in all our congregations and church-related institutions.