Sexual Ethics Policy of the West Virginia Conference
The church is a unique environment in which we expect no harm to be done. The church seeks wholeness and healing, in unity expressed as the Body of Christ. Where such unity prevails, there is no exploitation, no humiliation, and no abuse.
People in a ministerial role will be held accountable.
The ministerial role is one of power and responsibility. Persons called to ministerial roles are expected to dedicate themselves to the highest ideals of the Christian life for the sake of the church and the most effective witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Conduct is as important a witness as the sermons preached, the rites celebrated, the counsel offered, and other church tasks performed. Church leaders, whether clergy or laity, must maintain appropriate sexual boundaries that respect the fact that a power differential exists between them and those whom they serve.
Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to children. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that “children must be protected from economic, physical and sexual exploitation and abuse.” Tragically, churches have not always been safe places for children. Child sexual abuse, exploitation, and ritual abuse occur in churches, both large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural and racial lines. Such incidents are devastating to all who are involved: the child, the family, the local church and its leaders. God calls us to make churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from abuse. God calls us to create communities of faith where children and adults grow safe and strong.
In light of this, the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church is committed to creating policy and procedures that can 1) prevent such abuse from happening in our churches; 2) be a place where children can feel safe in disclosing abuse; and 3) protect the loyal volunteers and employees that minister to our children, youth and vulnerable adults.