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. A summary of the synod's sexual misconduct policy can be found here (PDF).
Reporting child abuse
Minnesota requires allegations of abuse against a minor to be reported immediately to the county or tribal social service agency where the child lives, regardless of confidentiality issues:
Anoka County: If you know or suspect that a child is in immediate danger (such as a recent sexual assault or a serious physical assault) or the child is abandoned, call 911 or Anoka County at 763-427-121. To report suspected abuse or neglect of a child living in Anoka County, please call 763-422-7125. You may also fax a Child Maltreatment Report Form to 763-422-6929.
Chisago County: Call Chisago County Human Services Child Protection Intake at 651-213-5672 or fax the reporting form to 651-213-5686. The Child Protection Intake Unit is located at 313 North Main Street, Room 239, Center City, MN 55012
Dakota County: If ever a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police or sheriff's department. During business hours call 952-891-7459; after working hours and weekends call 952-891-7171.
Isanti County: Call the Child Protection Social Worker on Intake Monday-Friday (8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) at (763) 689-1711 immediately. Complete the Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect Report Form within 72 hours of your oral report. Outside of Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., please contact Isanti County Sheriff's Department at (763) 689-2141.
Scott County: Call Health and Human Services Central Intake 952-496-8959 to file a report of child abuse or neglect. Reports can be made Monday - Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours reports can be made to your local law enforcement. The physical address is 200 4th Avenue W, Room 300 Shakopee, MN 55379.
Ramsey County: If ever a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police or sheriff's department. During business hours call 651-266-4500; after working hours call 651-291-6795. The Ramsey County Child Protection Intake is located at 160 East Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 6000 Saint Paul, MN 55101.
Washington County: If ever a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police or sheriff's department. During business hours call 651-430-6457; after 4:30 p.m. or on weekends call 651-291-6795.
Reporting sexual misconduct
Sexual misconduct committed by congregational employees should be reported to the pastor, council president, or other congregational officer. Congregations are encouraged to have policies in place for addressing allegations against church staff and to respond with compassion and care to anyone reporting abuse by clergy or lay leaders.
This synod has responsibility for addressing allegations of sexual abuse by rostered ministers (ordained clergy and deacons), administering appropriate discipline, and responding to those who have been harmed. Policies and procedures in place in this synod provides for compassionate and resolute response to those wounded by rostered minister sexual misconduct, and appropriate discipline for those who offend.
Where to report rostered minister (ordained clergy or deacon) sexual misconduct
Report to the Saint Paul Area Synod if this synod is a) where the misconduct occurred; b) where the rostered minister (clergy or deacon) is currently located; or c) where the victim is currently located.
The following synod staff are available to receive reports:
Main Telephone | 651.224.4313
Bishop Lull | Ext. 109 | email@example.com
Deacon Krista Lind | Ext. 107 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Justin Grimm | Ext. 106 | email@example.com
The Rev. Peter Harrits | Ext. 112 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The following other persons in this synod are available to receive reports:
The Rev. Bradley Schmeling | 651.699.1378 | email@example.com
The Rev. Meredith McGrath | 651.433.2723 | firstname.lastname@example.org
See the ELCA website at www.elca.org/Our-Work/Leadership/Vocation-Become-a-Leader/Report-Misconduct for a drop down menu on who to contact in synods and congregations.
Additional contact: For further assistance within the ELCA, please call 800-638-3522, ext. 2699, or email.
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. A summary of the synod's sexual misconduct policy can be found here (PDF).
ELCA & Synodical Resources
Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline (ELCA, revised April 2021)
Sample Policy on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response: A Word Doc for congregations to use as a jumping off point in developing their own policy.
Sample Guidance on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response: A Word Doc for congregations to use in developing guidelines to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct.
Sample Flyer for Reporting Misconduct: A Word Doc for congregations to edit and hang in their churches.
Sexual Misconduct Reporting Process in the Saint Paul Area Synod: To help congregations better understand the reporting process.
Flowchart for Receiving Reports of Sexual Misconduct: To help congregations navigate the reporting process.
Resources for Congregations for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response: A resource to assist congregations in developing a healthy climate in which sexual misconduct is not tolerated and policies to address sexual misconduct if it does occur.
Safe Connections: A resource to help parishioners understand and prevent clergy sexual abuse. Healthy relationships of trust and respect between laity and clergy are essential for carrying out the mission of the church. This resource can assist in creating and maintaining strong, creative and healthy relationships of integrity and safety, for the sake of our common ministry to the gospel of Christ Jesus and to the people of God.
Healing in congregations after clergy sexual abuse: A resource to assist synodical leaders and local congregations. This resource is offered to synodical bishops and their staffs, to other clergy and lay leaders, interims and “after pastors,” including those who will provide on-site leadership for a period of time in congregations after the incidence of clergy sexual abuse.
An ELCA Strategy for responding to sexual abuse in the church: A resource of shared learning of synods, seminaries, congregations, colleges, social ministry organizations and the churchwide expression.
Cherish All Children Cherish All Children is an ELCA ministry that equips congregations to prevent child sexual exploitation. The heart of this ministry lies in congregations, where staff, leaders, and members pray, educate, connect with others, and act on behalf of children within and outside their congregations. The Cherish All Children Congregational Manual has tips, practical examples and a suggested structure for developing a Cherish All Children team. The website also has resources for safe church policies, prayer booklets, books, and Internet resources.
Safe Sanctuaries: Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse in the Church by Joy Thornburg Melton
This 80-page book provides guidance to help develop policies and procedures for reducing the risk of child abuse in the church. The book defines the scope of child abuse, outlines the different types of abuse, notes the indicators of abuse, discusses the legal requirements for reporting abuse, and provides guidelines for screening and hiring workers and volunteers. The book also outlines basic procedures of safe ministry with children and youth and outlines a congregational plan for responding to allegations of abuse. Sample forms included for screening workers, requiring background checks, doing reference checks and reporting suspected abuse. A suggested training session plan for people who work with children and youth is outlined, and a bibliography of suggested resources is included. This book can be purchased from Amazon.
Contact the Saint Paul Area Synod Office
105 W. University Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55103-2094
Contact ELCA Churchwide Office
Prevention of Sexual Misconduct
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
8765 West Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631-4101
Phone: 800.638.3522, ext. 2699
Email: For general questions or comments, please contact email.