Last weekend proved to be a difficult one for our small church. It is with great sadness that we share that an MG pastor contacted Child Protective Services on behalf of the health and wellbeing of some of the children in our church family. The matter was prompted upon learning about details in the family’s home through regularly scheduled children’s programming.
As mandatory reporters, MG’s staff pastors are required by law and clergy ethics “to report known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect.” We take this requirement seriously. It is all too often that religious leaders fail to report instances of harm that ultimately result in lifelong trauma. After learning of the family’s situation, the MG pastor consulted with me. After seeking God in prayer, the call was made to inform Child Protective Services out of an abundance of caution.
It is important to note that a familiarity with a family or lack thereof is irrelevant. Too many times, in too many churches, pastors and faith leaders have assumed everything to be okay, with children paying the price. This is not in anyway to suggest that something wrong took place. Rather, our training is clear. If we are to err, it must always be on the side of erring to ensure a child's safety.
These types of events are always hard on everyone involved, but even more so in small church communities like ours. MG has worked diligently to handle the matter in a sensitive way that maintains confidence and keeps all parties anonymous. However, it has come to our attention that the family involved has made public the details about their experience this weekend. MG supports this family in speaking out about their experience and MG simultaneously commits to keep details of the matter in confidence - out of respect for the family, the children involved, and in keeping with our pastoral ethics.
It is painful to know that relationships are currently strained with the family involved. Difficult decisions such as the one to call Child Protective Services are always made with great care and with the overall wellbeing of children in mind. We have been in contact with denominational leadership to review this situation and have been assured our actions were in line with our clergy ethics and training. While we understand that pain and disruption has occurred, it is our prayer that trust can be repaired and that relationships can be mended.
As a church that seeks to actively practice our values, inclusion is a top priority. We continue to welcome all to attend our church and we pray for divine healing over this situation. God works wonders - God can bring believers closer together and closer to God through even the most difficult of situations.
It is our commitment to you that we will continue to seek God’s guidance as these concerns are addressed. While respecting MG’s need to maintain confidence, we welcome any questions or concerns you may have about mandatory reporting, clergy ethics, or about the church’s mission to be a growing community of Jesus followers, dedicated to growing in faith, living whole lives, and seeking justice for the good of our neighbors.