MC USA to train investigators of ministerial misconduct

Mennonite Church USA logoELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Church USA) – The office of Leadership Development of MC USA will hold an Investigator Training for Ministerial Misconduct to take place on March 2-4, 2018 in the Elkhart, Indiana office. By offering the training, MC USA seeks to create a pool of trained investigators should the event of misconduct arise anywhere in the denomination. Each area conference has been asked to send one or two participants to the training.

In order to make the training more accessible, MC USA and the Panel for Sexual Abuse Prevention will jointly cover all of the registration costs for people sent as area conference participants. Mennonite colleges, agencies and sister denominations are also invited to join the training with a registration rate of $350 per person. The misconduct training will be led by FaithTrust Institute, a multifaith organization that provides tools to address issues related to sexual abuse prevention and response.

“We take all misconduct complaints seriously and want to handle them with as much integrity as possible,” said Nancy Kauffmann, denominational minister of MC USA. “One of the ways we want to help equip conferences to respond appropriately when the need arises is to have a pool of trained investigators in our system.”

The Investigator Training supports MC USA’s Ministerial Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure. The policy states that three investigators must be appointed to conduct a thorough and timely investigation of any complaint a conference receives against a credentialed leader for sexual and/or other misconduct. Investigators are to be appointed by the conference minister, or if the National Office determines a conflict of interest, an alternative facilitator will appoint them.

According to MC USA’s ministerial misconduct policy, an investigative team should include the following:

  • Three members, at least one male and one female
  • Members who are as “independent” as possible – not connected with the accused leader’s congregation and at least one member with no connection to the area conference
  • Members who are familiar with issues of abuse, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence and trauma
  • Members who are “known to be fair, objective, honest, of mature Christian character”

MC USA policy also recommends that the investigative team should “consider working with a professional investigator who has specialized in sexual abuse.”

By creating a pool of trained investigators, MC USA is making efforts to change denominational culture—equipping people with education and tools so that more are prepared to recognize abuse, listen to victims and hold leaders accountable, Kauffman explained.

“Our office is committed to zero tolerance of ministerial sexual misconduct,” said Terry Shue, director of Leadership Development. “Two ways we currently work at this is by providing resources for ministerial healthy boundaries and developing a network of investigators of misconduct as our commitment to the church.”

For questions about the training, contact Nancy Kauffmann at NancyK@MennoniteUSA.org or 574-523-3054.