Educating Congregations About Sexual Misconduct

Churches have to be so careful when dealing with children. There is always the potential for misconduct. Today, experts met to help educate those who could be impacted.

Everyone knew it was the scandal surrounding Victory Christian Center that brought about the conversation and this seminar about sexual misconduct.

Robert Herndon, is Minister at South Brooke Church of Christ.

"It had to take something to make us aware. It's unfortunate that that happened to Victory but that's what made us aware."

When parents drop their kids off at a church they expect them to be safe and churches and their staff have to understand what their responsibility is.

"It's individual to every person who has cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected to report that to the hotline," says District Attorney Tim Harris.

One of the challenges being used in the Victory case is that rape is not child abuse. But the district attorney is clear.

"Is rape child abuse? Yes, answers Harris.Rape, incest, lewd molestation, lewd proposal to a minor, it's all defined in the statute."

A panel of experts also addressed he legal implications when faith organizations don't have a plan to address sexual misconduct.

"We have one now and we'll use it," says Herndon.

If the people in this room don't learn anything else. It's that it is incumbent upon individuals within congregations to report child abuse.

Eliyahu Krigel, Congregation B'Nai Emunah says, "We have to call DHS, we have to call 911 immediately and there has to be no delay."

This seminar was so successful Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry is looking at presenting a second workshop to deal with sexual misconduct from a pastoral perspective.