27 May 2019 | The newsletter nadMinisterial, published by the North American Division Ministerial Department, has included an article that suggests ways to handle church attendance by sex offenders.
The piece is written by Dan Appel, a retired Adventist pastor living in Magalia, California.
It looks at ways to minister to known sex offenders who attend church, while fulfilling a congregation’s duty to protect children and ensure a safe environment.
Appel, who pastored a church with an attending sex offender, argued that the answer to providing such an environment was healthy boundaries.
He shared a contract, developed with the legal department of his conference at the time, which sex offenders were required to sign in order to attend church.
“It can appear draconian, but it enabled us to minister to people desperately needing to connect with God and caring people while allowing our parents to bring their children to worship and other church activities in a safe environment,” wrote Appel about the contract.
It is included below:
Church Attendance/Participation Policy for Convicted Sex Offenders
I recognize the concerns and responsibilities of the church to ensure a safe environment for its members and wish to stipulate to the following conditions that would allow my participation in church activities:
1. I will not associate with any minors attending or participating in any church/school activity. I will not sit next to a child and if a child sits next to me, I will move.
2. I will not linger in areas where children are being taught and will not go to any area where children’s or youth ministries are being conducted.
3. I will not place myself into, or accept, any position of leadership or authority.
4. I will under no circumstances take a child home with me or transport them anywhere at anytime.
5. I will not develop any special relationships with minor children or their parents.
6. I will not go to a church member’s home where children are present.
7. I agree to maintain an accountability network with individuals as defined by the church and make sure my whereabouts at church or church activities is known at all times.
8. I authorize the church to obtain information regarding myself from my parole officer, governmental agencies or other persons who might have information relative to my prior criminal convictions.
9. I agree to comply with any court-mandated restrictions, treatment, and/or requirements and recognize that these take precedence over any less restrictive parts of this agreement.
10. I understand and agree that the church, in fulfilling its responsibilities in providing a safe environment for its members and guests, will disclose an account of my past behavior and/or criminal history to parents, church leaders, and other persons who may need to have such information in order to meet their parental or supervisory responsibilities.
11. I understand that the provisions of this Participation Agreement do not create any personal and/or legal rights against the church that would afford me any claim or right of redress in any legal or administrative proceedings, nor does this agreement in any way preclude the church from exercising its U.S. Constitutional First Amendment rights pertaining to the church membership and/or discipline.
12.This agreement shall remain valid as long as I attend and/or participate in the activities of the church named in this document, and should I wish to transfer my attendance, participation, or membership to another congregation, a copy of this document will be sent to them.
I have read and understand the above conditions and agree to abide by them. If at any point I break one of the above conditions, I recognize that I shall not be allowed to attend church activities in the Northern California Conference.