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Recommendations

At the 2000 General Assembly, Executive Vice-President Kay Montgomery provided bold leadership in ministry and restorative justice for victims/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct when she acknowledged constructive action being take to address this issue. She said unequivocally that the Association has largely failed the people most hurt by sexual misconduct (the victims/survivors) and apologized. She pledged that this gap, this failure, will be remedied.

In keeping with this bold leadership, the Panel's report is composed of several sections: an Introduction which includes its recommendations, a theological and spiritual grounding for response and ministry, the view as seen from the perspective of a victim/survivor, the role of victim/survivor advocacy in ministry and response to clergy sexual misconduct, a pamphlet explaining the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) response and ministry to victims/survivors for all congregations, leaders and staff, and finally a glossary of terms.

The Panel urges the reader to digest the report in its entirety, not merely the recommendations since many of the recommendations will only be fully understood in the context of the additional sections.

In summary, the Panel recommends:

The UUA implement a plan of response and ministry to victims/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct with restorative justice as the primary goal. The Association commit to and put in writing a plan with quarterly progress reports to the UUA Board of Trustees; that there be an interim progress report to the 2001 General Assembly with a plan timeline, description of trainings, and how the plan will be implemented; that there be a final report to the 2002 General Assembly describing the implementation of these recommendations and the operation of the program.

  1. Highest priority in this plan of ministry and response be the development and implementation of an advocates program based on the model in Section II. We recommend employing Ms. Heather Block, author of the Advocacy Training Manual, (or a person of equivalent ability and experience) as a consultant to work with the UUA to develop a Unitarian Uniersalist (UU) advocates model. Development of the advocates model will include representatives from the Safe Congregations Panel, staff and other UU leaders in this field.
     
  2. The Association create an Office of Restorative Justice (ORJ) with a coordinator to be named by the UUA Executive Vice-President in consultation with the Safe Congregations Panel. The ORJ mission be to provide ministry/response to victims/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct and coordinate the Association's work toward restorative justice. The ORJ will:
    • Work with Heather Block (or equivalent person) in the creation and implementation of the advocates program, and coordinate the program on an on-going basis;
    • Participate on the Safe Congregations Team;
    • Receive all inquires and complaints of clergy sexual misconduct. The Coordinator will work with and advise the inquirer/complainant/victim/survivor regarding the possible options;
    • Consult and support and provide resources for the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Department of Ministry, the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, and the Department of Congregation, District and Extension Services, and other UU bodies as needed;
    • Contribute to and learn from interfaith efforts on this issue and keep the UUA informed;
    • Monitor and annually report to the UUA community at General Assembly and on the UUA website all UUA activities concerning possible and confirmed clergy sexual misconduct (csm) and all institutional responses including:
      • Number of inquires received about csm;
      • Number of reports received of csm
      • Number of reports of csm investigated;
      • Number of reports substantiated (and not substantiated) of csm;
      • Number of persons requesting advocate support;
      • Number of persons offered advocacy support;
      • Number of persons using advocacy support;
      • Collect and make available reports by advocates and reports by complainants/victims/survivors regarding how well the UUA ministry/response is meeting program goals;
      • Direct costs of the program by major component
      • Consistently evaluate and publish the success of and the challenges to the program by involving advocates and victims/survivors in assessment.
         
    • The ORJ have its own UU web page accessible to all congregations with resources which could include pamphlets, this report, links to related web sites and additional literature and material.
       
  3. The Director of the Department of Ministry no longer serve as the Executive Secretary of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and be involved in ministry/response on an as-needed basis only.
     
  4. The Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) review its procedures to ensure that language and process provide respect, safety, and ease of use for complainants. The Committee consult with former complainants in reviewing procedures. In keeping with the MFC's goal of ensuring that our movement is served by responsible ministry, we recommend that they work together with the ORJ to build a process that lowers the risk of filing complaints against ministers by ensuring that a complainant is informed and consulted at critical points in the process. In this way the MFC may contribute to building a model through which restorative justice is possible.
     
  5. The Safe Congregations Team be expanded to include the ORJ Coordinator and the MFC Executive Secretary. The Team's meetings be regularly scheduled.
     
  6. The printing and distribution of a pamphlet that gives a summary of the UUA's "Ministry and Response to Victims/Survivors of Clergy Sexual Misconduct." This pamphlet be sent to all congregations, UU leaders and staff and a copy be available from the UUA homepage.
     
  7. The President of the UUA provide continuing leadership on the issues addressed in this report. Opportunities for such leadership could include:
    • Making a public apology to the victims/survivors of clergy sexual misconduct;
    • Letters of apology sent to all victims/survivors and their families and the congregations effected;
    • Devoting a columns in the UU World to this;
    • Posting a letter to the home page of the UUA web site;
    • Writing a letter to clergy and Board members charging them with;
    • Establishing at the General Assembly an annual President's Lecture (or discussion or workshop) on Safe Congregations, beginning if possible in 2001.
       
  8. We acknowledge and support the current Department of Ministry (DOM) practice of informing congregations in the search process of ministerial misconduct. We recommend in addition that the DOM inform all congregations in the Search Process that included as part of a minister's file is a signed or unsigned covenant in which the minister has pledged to abide by the UUMA Code of Professional Practice. Also a part of this file will be an acknowledgement from the minister that she/he has been urged to receive training in an appropriate clergy sexual ethics and/or safe congregations class or workshop. An appropriate class or workshop in sexual ethics and/or safe congregations be required by the MFC of all candidates seeking UUA fellowship.
     
  9. UUA legal counsel consult with legal counsel from faith communities who have progressive ministry/response models grounded in restorative justice-making.
     
  10. Funds be budgeted for the ORJ, advocacy programs and a Fund for Restorative Justice for victims/survivors.
     
  11. All field staff be trained in the process and educated about the advocacy model. Also, field staff be trained in working toward restorative justice for congregations as secondary victims/survivors.
     
  12. The complainant be included in any voluntary resolution: restorative justice will be achieved only when ministry/response involves all the parties.
     
  13. Once charges are brought against a minister, the Association be in the role of complainant and the victim/survivor in the role of witness.

For more information contact safecongregations @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, April 22, 2011.

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