Grace creates clear policy for reporting sexual harassment

By Helen Hankins and Donna Olendorf

Vestry member Helen HankinsAfter months of hard work and research, Grace Church has completed its own standard operating policy and procedure (SOPP) for reporting sexual misconduct. The guidelines, called Reporting Suspected Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Exploitation, or Sexual Harrassment, have been posted on the website and the Parish Hall bulletin board. Grace created the document in response to events that transpired at our church in 2008 and were brought to light late last year.

Although the perpetrator was eventually brought to justice, it was the victims themselves rather than the church that pursued this end. Going forward, the congregation wanted the church to play a stronger part and decided to put church policies in place to ensure that victims would have a clear blueprint for reporting sexual misconduct.

The vestry appointed Jr. Warden, Jeff Tibbits; Clare Andreasson; and Helen Hankins to a subcommittee, whose purpose was to draft the new policy and procedure for reporting Sexual Misconduct, Exploitation or Harassment. The Bishop’s office, including the Bishop himself and his staff were extremely helpful throughout this process. They sent copies of the Church Canons, Safeguarding God’s People and God’s Children, as well as a model policy developed by the Church Pension Group.

From these documents the subcommittee drafted a procedure especially with Grace Church in mind, with a list of contacts to whom a victim may report. The SOPP will be permanently posted in the Parish Hall, on the website, and a copy kept on file in the Church Office.

We pray that we will not have to use these procedures and that this sad and difficult time from our past may be put to rest.

Bishop Hougland, as promised, will return to speak with us on Tuesday evening, October, 18, 2016.

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