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Expectations of Appropriate Behavior
The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Texas have expectations of the Church, those who work in it and those who are its members. In 1991 the General Convention passed a resolution in which it declared that sexual abuse, exploitation, coercion and harassment of adults and minors by clergy and church employees are abuses of trust, a violation of the Baptismal Covenant, contrary to Christian character and are therefore wrong. The Church must be a safe place for all people, a place of respect, trust and caring.
In his first letter to the Church at Corinth, St. Paul urges members of that community to engage in a way of life that will show outsiders the nature of the community that is to be a reflection of Jesus.
The final promise of our Baptismal Covenant asks us to “. . . strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” The Diocesan policies for the protection of children and youth from abuse and for the prevention of sexual exploitation and harassment of adults give life to that Baptismal promise. Through baptism we share a common life of faith, a life of service and servanthood, a life rooted in love and faithfulness.
At Ordination, clergy – both priests and deacons - take on an additional set of promises, including the promise to pattern their life in accordance with the teachings of Christ in order to be “a wholesome example” to their people.
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas is committed to maintaining an environment free of abuse of children and youth and of sexual exploitation and harassment of adults in its churches, schools and institutions. It is a commitment the Diocese requires all ministers of the Church, lay and ordained, to make and uphold.
Reporting boundary violations or suspected sexual abuse, exploitation or harassment
The Diocese of Texas has policies that establish standards of behavior and “best practices” for all clergy, church employees and adults who work with children and youth (Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth from Abuse) and policies that establish standards and “best practices” for clergy, specified lay ministers and church employees (Safeguarding God’s People: preventing sexual harassment and sexual exploitation of church workers).
Persons who wish to report violations, suspected abuse, sexual exploitation or harassment may report such to their rector or head of school (who will report this to the Diocesan contacts) or directly to the Rev. Canon Ann Normand in the Bishop’s office, 1225 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002 or call her at 1.800.318.4452 or the Rev. Cecilia B. Smith, Safe Church Minister, P. O. Box 2247, Austin, TX 78768 or call her at 512.478.0580.
Where to find copies of the Safeguarding policies for children, youth and adults
Copies of the policies are available from diocesan clergy and heads of schools; on the “Clergy Only” portion of the diocesan web site, or by emailing the Rev. Cecilia Smith to request an electronic copy. Copies are also made available at all Safe Church trainings.