MC Canada, MC USA collaborate on abuse prevention, accountability

Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA are working on a guidebook for prevention of abuse by lay and credentialed leaders, as well as leadership accountability.

The resource — expected to be completed in early 2023 — will build on existing documents, ­including “Ministerial Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure” and “Prevention and Response: Sexual Abuse and Non-­credentialed Individuals.”

MC Canada and MC USA plan to submit the completed policy guide to their delegate assemblies in 2023.

Michael Danner, MC USA associate executive director for church vitality, said if the policy is affirmed it will be the first prevention and accountability policy approved by MC USA delegates, an important step in ensuring its consistent use and acceptance.

“It’s our responsibility as a denomination to ensure that our congregations and conferences have the resources they need as they engage in the prevention of abuse by lay and credentialed leaders and in holding transgressors accountable,” he said.

Trust is foundational in Christian community, said Doug Klassen, MC Canada executive minister.

“Well-articulated policy is critically important for guiding how church leaders and congregants relate to each other,” he said.

Work on the project began when the Joint Executive Committee of MC Canada and MC USA endorsed it.

Team members, in addition to Danner and Klassen, are:

— Dick Barrett, conference minister, Ohio Conference of MC USA;

— Heather Klassen, chair of the board of trustees of Foothills Mennonite Church in Calgary, Alta.;

— Susannah Larry, assistant professor of biblical studies, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary;

— Kathy Neufeld Dunn, associate conference minister, Western District Conference of MC USA;

— Carol Penner, assistant professor of theological studies, Conrad Grebel University College;

— Marilyn Rudy-Froese, church leadership minister, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada of MC Canada.

The team met with Nancy Kauffmann, Terry Shue and Karen Martens Zimmerly, former denominational workers who developed the 2017 Ministerial Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure. Team members are reaching out to conference ministers and pastors to learn about their experiences using existing documents.

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