Executive board clarifies position on sexual abuse

The executive board of the Canadian MB conference approved a statement at their board meetings in January that clarifies its position on child sexual abuse.

The statement “strongly and without reservation” affirms that “the Mennonite Brethren church believes that the sexual violation of children is morally wrong and that exposing acts of such violation is morally right.”

The provincial conferences have sexual abuse policies designed to guide pastors and church leaders in an appropriate response to victims who come forward with reports of violation. Cases are handled at the provincial level.

“We call on church leaders to be truthful and transparent in dealing with those who claim to be victims of child sexual violation and to observe the policies of their provincial conferences concerning this important area of ministry safety and care,” the statement says. “We call on church leaders to follow the laws of the land with respect to mandatory reporting of child sexual violation.”

“Where needed or requested, the conference through the appropriate channels will appoint an independent third party to investigate claims of sexual violation. We support a victim-centred restorative justice approach to dealing with victims of child sexual violation.”

The executive board reiterated this position because of recent public allegations directed to the MB church by a woman in Ontario. Vidya Narimalla, chair of that province’s Board of Faith and Life, has been leading the response.

The board’s statement, however, is intended as a reminder to all churches, says Canadian executive director David Wiebe, because abuse allegations have arisen in a number of churches in the past. “Our primary concern,” he says, “is to challenge and assist our churches to be places of healing for those who have been hurt.”

–Dora Dueck

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