Commitment · Relationships · Responsibility
Our commitment as a Church
The Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA is committed to maintaining a caring Christian community free from all forms of sexual misconduct. The Church is called to create and maintain a climate of justice that insures safety and encourages persons who have been victimized by sexual harassment or abuse to disclose such experiences, to bring harassers and abusers to accountability, and to provide healing ministries for all concerned—individuals, families, congregations, and communities.
The relationship between rostered ministers and congregations
Theologically, the relationship between rostered ministers* and congregations is based on the scriptural understanding of Call. Legally, the relationship between rostered ministers and their congregations is that of employee and employer. A congregation calls its rostered minister, determines that person’s duties and responsibilities, provides day-to-day supervision, and decides if and when that person’s call needs to be terminated. When a rostered minister engages in sexual misconduct, it is often members of his or her congregation who are victimized and who first learn of the misconduct. The relationship between rostered ministers and the Synod is ecclesiastical. The Synod has neither the resources nor the authority to supervise and control the daily activities of rostered leaders. But the Synod is responsible for administering the Church’s disciplinary process. If a rostered person commits “conduct incompatible with the character of the ministerial office,” the Synod can act to remove that person from the ELCA rosters. More importantly, the Synod is charged with providing pastoral care and leadership for its member congregations. Congregations look to the Synod for assistance, advice, and care when a rostered leader is suspected of sexual misconduct.
*Rostered ministers are pastors and deacons.
The congregation’s legal responsibility
The law requires that a congregation “take reasonable action” when it becomes aware of sexual misconduct (MN Statute §604.2, see Appendix III in this document). If, for example an employee of a congregation accuses the pastor of sexual harassment, Minnesota law requires that the congregation take timely and appropriate action. The Synod can offer assistance and advice to the congregation, but it cannot fulfill the congregation’s legal obligations. This policy is not intended to diminish in any way the legal and moral responsibilities of congregations.
Synod Task Forces
The Minneapolis Area Synod Council has established a task force to review and update the synod’s sexual misconduct policy.
There are also two other committees, the Consultation Committee and the Discipline Committee, that may become involved in deliberating about incidents that have occurred.