A108 Amend Canon III.6.5(g) Addressing Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

Original version

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention amend Canon III.6.5(g) as follows:

(g) Preparation for ordination shall include training regarding

  1. prevention of sexual misconduct of both children and adults.
  2. civil requirements for reporting and pastoral opportunities for responding to evidence of abuse.
  3. the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, particularly Title IV thereof.
  4. the Church's teaching on racism.

And be it further

Resolved, That Canon III.8.5(h) shall be amended as follows:

(h) Preparation for ordination shall include training regarding

  1. prevention of sexual misconduct of both children and adults.
  2. civil requirements for reporting and pastoral opportunities for responding to evidence of abuse.
  3. the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, particularly Title IV thereof.
  4. the Church’s teaching on racism.

And be it further

Resolved that Canon III.9.6 shall be amended by adding a subsection (d) as follows:

(d) It shall be the duty of the Rector or Priest-in-Charge to ensure that a policy regarding harassment and sexual misconduct is promulgated and enforced in the local Parish, and that such a policy is publicly posted or made available within the congregation upon request.

And be it further

Resolved, That Canon III.12.3 shall be amended by adding a subsection (f) to read as follows:

(f) The Bishop Diocesan shall ensure that a diocesan policy regarding harassment and sexual misconduct, and the process of reporting it, is promulgated by the appropriate body and enforced throughout the diocese, and that a written copy thereof is kept on file at the diocesan office, is posted on the diocesan website and is made available upon request. In the absence of a Bishop Diocesan, the Ecclesiastical Authority shall assume this responsibility.

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Explanation

Sexual Harassment became a highly publicized issue in 2017. Although the issue has been addressed by General Convention in the past (1991-B052; 2003-A023; 2006-A156;), it became apparent during this triennium that there is considerable variation in the existence and substance of policies on the sexual harassment of adults across the Episcopal Church. While the Canons require prevention of sexual misconduct training of all ordinands and nearly all dioceses have policies requiring all lay leaders and employees and volunteers who interact with children to be trained in preventing the sexual abuse of children, often referred to as “safe church” training, fewer dioceses have policies or have fully implemented policies requiring training of employees and volunteers to prevent sexual harassment of adults even though the Church Insurance companies have made curriculum and model policies available. One of the challenges of sexual harassment policies and training is to make sure they comply with state and local laws on the subject.

The lack of universal policies and training on the sexual harassment of adults has very real effects for those who work, whether paid or volunteer, in the Church. Harassment is prevalent in our culture. According to studies by The United Methodist Church in 2005 and 2007, over three-fourths of United Methodist Church female clergy have experienced harassment within the United Methodist Church (see “Sexual Harassment in The United Methodist Church 2005” and the “Quadrennial Local Church Survey 2007” by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, Chicago, Illinois, Gail Murphy-Geiss, Principal Investigator). An informal survey taken of a group of female Episcopal clergy under age forty-five (45) revealed that of the seventy-six (76) women who responded to the question, all of them reported harassment of some kind. Several also reported that male clergy of their acquaintance had also experienced harassment within the church. This sort of widespread problem contributes to the problem of retaining female clergy. Moreover, it undermines our hopes for a more equal and diverse church.

To address this problem, we propose adding provisions to Title III of the Canons that clarify that the canonically required training for ordinands to prevent sexual misconduct must include training on preventing sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse of adults and children. A canonical requirement is also proposed to require such training for all clergy in charge of congregations. In addition, we propose that Bishops Diocesan (or the Ecclesiastical Authority in the absence of a Bishop Diocesan) be responsible for assuring that the diocese adopts and enforces a policy to prevent sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse of adults and children.


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