Author Topic: Protecting Our Children  (Read 6331 times)

Buckeye Deaconess

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Protecting Our Children
« on: July 04, 2020, 09:34:03 AM »

As the former Chair of the LCMS Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Task Force, I thought I would share the resources on child abuse that were assembled by that group.  Please see this link.

Particularly helpful may be this piece which addresses, in part, how to address the needs of perpetrators should you ever find yourself in that situation.  God continues to offer His love and forgiveness to all, no matter how grave we may judge a sin to be.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 02:05:13 PM by Richard Johnson »

Jeremy_Loesch

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2020, 10:13:43 AM »
Thanks Kim. Always timely.

Jeremy

Keith Falk

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2020, 12:02:56 PM »
The links Kim posted from her Task Force work are also important.  When I arrived at my first call, about two weeks after - I wasn't even ordained yet, due to bishop scheduling issues - the president of the congregation and one of the call committee members sat down and to tell me "all the stuff that we didn't say" during the call process.  One of those things was that a member of the congregation, who had been convicted of sexual crimes against children, would be released from prison soon and would want to come back to the community and the congregation.  When he did, he and I had to have some serious conversations.  He struggled with forgiveness and protection - his point/perspective was that if he was freely and fully forgiven, shouldn't he be accepted and welcomed back into the community of faith just as before, with no change and no restrictions?  I - all of 26 years old and a called pastor for all of 3 or 4 months and the father of an almost one year old boy - had the task of navigating theological realities and protections - both for the man and the children and families of the congregation.  I noted that all it would take would be one kid getting mad at him for some reason and one accusation and he would be excoriated, that the reality is that he would always be considered guilty until proven innocent.  To protect him - and, yes, to protect the children of the congregation - we had to put restrictions on where and when he could be in the building.


I do not envy anyone in any role in this type of situation.  It is incredibly challenging and heart rending.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 02:06:25 PM by Richard Johnson »
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Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2020, 12:11:56 PM »
The links Kim posted from her Task Force work are also important.  When I arrived at my first call, about two weeks after - I wasn't even ordained yet, due to bishop scheduling issues - the president of the congregation and one of the call committee members sat down and to tell me "all the stuff that we didn't say" during the call process.  One of those things was that a member of the congregation, who had been convicted of sexual crimes against children, would be released from prison soon and would want to come back to the community and the congregation.  When he did, he and I had to have some serious conversations.  He struggled with forgiveness and protection - his point/perspective was that if he was freely and fully forgiven, shouldn't he be accepted and welcomed back into the community of faith just as before, with no change and no restrictions?  I - all of 26 years old and a called pastor for all of 3 or 4 months and the father of an almost one year old boy - had the task of navigating theological realities and protections - both for the man and the children and families of the congregation.  I noted that all it would take would be one kid getting mad at him for some reason and one accusation and he would be excoriated, that the reality is that he would always be considered guilty until proven innocent.  To protect him - and, yes, to protect the children of the congregation - we had to put restrictions on where and when he could be in the building.


I do not envy anyone in any role in this type of situation.  It is incredibly challenging and heart rending.

Thank you for sharing this.  These situations occur more frequently than we would like to think within the church.  The more open we can be about discussing them and sharing resources, the better chance we have of not only protecting the vulnerable among us, but assisting those who struggle with such unholy desires.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 02:07:04 PM by Richard Johnson »

B Hughes

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2020, 07:08:36 AM »

I was an after-pastor to a church in California and almost twenty years after that individual had been removed, the resultant distrust of the office of pastor was still a living reality. In our current era of declining mainlines I wonder how much reseliancy is left to weather these storms today.

Coach-Rev

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2020, 08:03:50 AM »
Would not this whole thread be a violation of moderator Johnson's request that this discussion not be had?  I see an awful lot of discussing going on and would pray that such comments be stricken by the moderators.
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B Hughes

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2020, 08:14:11 AM »

   One of the first things we did when I arrived at my last church in Maryland was to have windows installed on all the doors in the building except the bathrooms and a robust child protection policy implemented. Anyone who worked with or around children went through a fingerprint background check, no child shall be alone with just one adult, anyone who wanted to work with children had to go through the training (including short term volunteers like at VBS, etc). Every new member's class we went over some of the details so the parents would also know what we were about.  That started in 2002.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 02:08:19 PM by Richard Johnson »

Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2020, 09:38:50 AM »

  Perhaps then I misinterpreted the thread.  I responded from the position of a presenting issue raised the more fundamental one: protecting children.  To that end I commented about the lasting impact on trust in a congregation that I experienced.


And it is appreciated that you did so.  Shutting down conversation about this topic just pushes it into the dark and makes it less likely that innocent children are protected and that those who struggle with such proclivities seek the help they need.  The church has already done this for far too long as witnessed by the situation in the Catholic church (and, of course, those situations described here).

B Hughes

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2020, 10:32:38 AM »
  Over the course of my time in that congregation three young men stopped in and asked about what happened to Pastor "Y." I told them that after leaving the congregation it was my understanding he had become a chaplain for a retirement community and had since passed away. We're talking the mid 90s so the events were sometime in the 70s. I also had something to do with the McMartin Preschool mess becoming public and going forward to arrests in Manhattan Beach, CA but that's another story.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2020, 10:44:32 AM by B Hughes »

Richard Johnson

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2020, 02:09:31 PM »
Would not this whole thread be a violation of moderator Johnson's request that this discussion not be had?  I see an awful lot of discussing going on and would pray that such comments be stricken by the moderators.

I agree. I've deleted all references to the particular situation that provoked this discussion. The more general comments about childhood sexual abuse remain, for it is an important issue. But please restrict yourself to the issue, not to the individual case.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

B Hughes

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2020, 02:37:01 PM »

  One of the challenges (among the many) of protecting children is the broken trust and betrayal that happens across the spectrum when things go off the rails: children, congregations, judicatory leaders and friends.  Whether it's a thin line of  continuum or maybe a full blown paradox (more my interpreration), justice and mercy are tricky things to navigate when these instances are revealed.


Rob Morris

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2020, 10:32:57 AM »
Can I just register a concern with the approach that says, "One of our active participants is accused of a sex crime and now everyone is forbidden from speaking of it?"

I get not wanting that discussion to devolve into the all-too-common sniping and stance-making, but, "We don't speak of those things here," seems wrong as well.

And if Pastor T. logs in or reads as a guest and sees this, please know that you have my prayers and that anything I can do to help support you during whatever the present and the future may hold, I would do so in any way I can. Feel free to reach out.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 02:02:11 PM by Richard Johnson »

Dan Fienen

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2020, 10:39:27 AM »
The particular case that occasioned this discussion should be forbidden. That is being dealt with by those whose responsibility it is to deal with it. That emphatically does not include any of us so far as I know. Enquiring minds who want to know can just remain unsatisfied. The broader topic of protecting our children should remain.
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Rob Morris

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2020, 10:54:44 AM »
The particular case that occasioned this discussion should be forbidden. That is being dealt with by those whose responsibility it is to deal with it. That emphatically does not include any of us so far as I know. Enquiring minds who want to know can just remain unsatisfied. The broader topic of protecting our children should remain.

Respectfully, there is a center ground between "das ist verboten" and "Enquiring minds want to know". Someone who was a valued participant is now accused of a crime and publicly connected with sinful behavior. To state that there shall be no discussion, no reference to it, is concerning to me. That's not how I would handle it at the congregation level and it's not how I would recommend handling it here.

The church has a long and inglorious history of how criminal accusations are and aren't discussed, especially around sex crimes. To make one statement of fact and say no one may speak ever again of this is troubling to me.

I'm not a moderator or in any position of authority, but the binary view you put forward is not the only choice - in a church or even on this Forum.

What's more, this Forum was, in it's own way, part of Pr. T's community. If even discussing him is verboten, is his participation likewise verboten? Is he to be shunned from our midst? If I were him, I would definitely be thinking that's the logical conclusion. Is it the right one?

Meanwhile, we can talk about the problem of the abuse of children, but when that accusation is leveled against one in our midst, that shall receive no treatment, no reflection - not even expressions of concern and hope that he be receiving proper pastoral care?

I'll not post on it any further, but I think the concern should be registered and should be taken more seriously than your response indicated.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2020, 02:02:51 PM by Richard Johnson »

Pr. Don Kirchner

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Re: Protecting Our Children
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2020, 11:15:10 AM »
Meanwhile, we can talk about the problem of the abuse of children, but when that accusation is leveled against one in our midst, that shall receive no treatment, no reflection - not even expressions of concern and hope that he be receiving proper pastoral care?

That was the entirety of my posts hereon, Pastor Morris, the concern of receiving proper pastoral care. I was assured that it's being done. It seemed important.
Pr. Don Kirchner

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