New Model Policy for Safeguarding our Children & Young People
In April 2018, a task force of the Episcopal Church released an updated "Model Policy for the Protection of Children and Youth" . The group also wrote a " Model Policy for the Protection of Vulnerable Adults ." This work was launched in 2015 by a resolution of General Convention, and over the next 2 and a half years, experts and practitioners from around the country worked on the update.
These model policies are grounded in Episcopal theology and baptismal promises to respect the dignity of every human being and dismantle unjust systems. They begin with a theological statement and include provisions for use of social media, mission trips, pilgrimages, camp and conference center programs, and other overnight events.
From the new model policy: "Ministry involves a necessary tension between a Gospel-based integrity and a Gospel-based intimacy as modeled by the life of Christ. A rigid adherence to a system of rules leads to an unproductive legalism. Yet, without the framework of the law, the intimate relationships into which Christ calls us risk distortion and harm. All the people of God are called to minister attentively within this tension. These model policies are intended to provide a pattern for attentive practice of ministry."
Among the most significant improvements, the new policies include definitions that reflect our current understanding of gender identity and sexuality, including Cisgender, Gender Non-binary, LGBTQ+, and Transgender, as well as provisions to enhance the understanding, welcoming and safety of all gender identities and expressions.
The Model Policies include enough detail to support those with limited experience to implement best practices and should prove a valuable resource for any congregation seeking to update their own policies and practices.