All forms of sexual misbehavior by clergy and lay leaders with church members are unacceptable within the life of the church. The church should be a safe place where people can worship, learn, work, love and receive care in a manner that is free from sexual misconduct. Because the church is called to be a safe place, this synod intends to take whatever measures it can to help prevent sexual abuse and misconduct within the synod.
What is misconduct?
Sexual misconduct: Federal and state laws make distinctions among various types of sexual misconduct, such as “sexual harassment,” “sexual abuse,” and “sexual assault.” Similarly, the governing documents of the ELCA define what types of sexual misconduct can result in a pastor or deacon facing ecclesiastical discipline. These distinctions should not concern a person who is troubled about the sexual conduct of a pastor or deacon. This church is concerned about all types of sexual misconduct by these individuals, regardless of whether or how the misconduct is characterized by the law or by the governing documents of the ELCA.
Any time a minister uses his or her position in the church for personal sexual gratification it is a misuse of the pastoral office and a betrayal of the nature of the pastoral relationship. Any sexual misconduct committed by a rostered church minister should be reported to the appropriate synod, including, but not limited to, any sexual contact between the rostered person and a congregant, counselee, employee or volunteer. It should be noted that the synod may not be able to assume primary responsibility for addressing all allegations of sexual misconduct. For example, law enforcement authorities would have responsibility for investigating and addressing criminal allegations, while congregations would have to deal with accusations of sexual harassment by the congregation's employees. Nevertheless, the synod office should be notified of all cases of inappropriate sexual behavior in the congregation.
Saint Paul Area Synod Office
105 W. University Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55103-2094
ELCA Churchwide Office
Prevention of Sexual Misconduct
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
8765 West Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631-4101