Conference ministers from Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada gathered Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in San Francisco for renewal, training and collaborative work around a new misconduct accountability and prevention guide.
Eighteen conference ministers from MC USA and eight regional ministers from MC Canada met at The Kimpton Alton Hotel. It was the first time leaders met in person since a November 2019 retreat in Banff, Alberta.
Ministerial leaders reviewed a first draft of a new misconduct policy guide. The binational resource addresses prevention of abuse by lay and credentialed leaders, as well as leadership accountability. Ministers provided feedback and participated in conversation around several statements designed to spark discussion:
— “A complainant should be able to remain anonymous throughout the misconduct process.”
— “A person found guilty of misconduct should never have their credential restored.”
— “Our misconduct policy should include provisions for facilitating forgiveness and reconciliation between complainants and accused.”
— “We should use the same policy and process for persons accused of misconduct who are dead.”
Feedback will help inform the volunteer reference team developing the guide. MC Canada and MC USA are hoping to submit the completed guide to their delegate assemblies in 2023.
Attendees participated in a daylong training on Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience, provided by Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. EMU instructors Matt Tibbles and Carolyn Stauffer led the training, which helps leaders bring a trauma-informed perspective to their personal and professional lives and equips them to use the tools with others.
“The STAR training was helpful in its description of different kinds of trauma, various responses to trauma and how trauma is embodied within our lives individually and collectively,” said Heidi Regier Kreider, conference minister of Western District Conference. “This awareness is crucial for us as conference ministers in our work with congregations and ministers as we recognize the impacts of trauma and nurture the church’s ministries of justice, healing and peacebuilding.”
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