Resolved, the House of __________ concurring, That the 79th General Convention directs the Executive Council to take the necessary steps to develop a mandatory training program with respect to alcohol and substance misuse (to be renewed at designated intervals) for all persons in the process of formation for ordination and for all priests and deacons currently licensed, with the goal that those in the formation process and all clergy would:
- Be trained in prior resolutions of the General Convention regarding impairment;
- Recognize impairment; and
- Provide tools for reporting incidents involving impaired clergy and remove barriers that impede individuals from reporting.
Resolved, That the Executive Council consider using training materials through publicly available resources at no cost, such as The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (samhsa.gov).
The above recommendation was included in the report of the Commission on Leadership and Impairment (“Commission”), which was formed by resolution of the House of Bishops on March 17, 2015. The resolution “requested that the Presiding Bishop appoint, in consultation of the House of Deputies, an independent commission to explore the canonical, environmental, behavioral, and procedural dimensions of matters involving the serious impairment of individuals serving as leaders in the Church, with special attention to issues of addiction and substance abuse.”
The Commission issued its report in March, 2017, which offered the following definition of impairment: “The inability to exercise ministry with reasonable skills and safety by virtue of physical or mental illness, inebriation, or excessive use of drugs, narcotics, alcohol, chemicals, or other substances.” (Report, p. 2).
The Commission stated that “[u]nnamed and unaddressed impairment of leaders causes damage with and beyond the body of Christ. The Commission has discovered that in many instances, church polity has impeded the ability of the Church to intervene, assess and treat impaired people and care for the injured community.” (Report, p. 4).
In offering the above recommendation, the Commission concluded that “the investment in creating such a program, reflecting current research and best practices with regard to addiction and substance abuse, would yield a significant return in the health and wholeness of the church’s leadership. The program could be modeled in part on the Church Pension Group’s ‘Safeguarding’ curriculum.” (Report, p. 17).
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