Responsible Ministry and Safe Environment Protocol
The Archbishop of Halifax has developed a protocol directed at enhancing the well-being and safety of all who participate in the Church’s programs and services. This protocol asserts the Church’s commitment to conduct responsible faith ministry in a spirit of openness, transparency and accountability.
It establishes a code of conduct for all engaged in ministry. It speaks to the responsibility of the Church to address issues of misconduct. It includes policies related to appropriate conduct by all who serve and addresses the specific issues of preventing abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable adults. It complies with the existing laws of the Province of Nova Scotia and of Canada in particular the Child Abuse Reporting Laws.
Implementation of the Protocol involves two principal elements:
- Commitment by all clergy, staff and volunteers to a Covenant of Care which makes clear the expectations of behavior for all; and
- a Parish Responsibility Coordinator (PRC), directly responsible to the Diocese who organizes the orientation process for all staff and volunteers and is available to ensure any complaints, infractions, or cases of possible abuse are reported.
- implementation of the protocol for all clergy is done separately by the Diocese; and
- reports by the Parish Responsibility Coordinator (PRC) under the protocol do not obviate the necessity of reporting, by anyone who has knowledge of specific cases of abuse, directly to the police.
The process of clearing staff and volunteers for service in the diocese involves the following activities coordinated by the Parish Responsibility Coordinator (PRC):
- formal request for employment in a ministry of the Parish together with information on previous activity of a similar nature;
- signature to agreement to formal commitment of compliance with the Covenant of Care;
- participation in a half-day orientation session;
- agreement to submission to a police criminal record check, and for those likely to be in contact with children under the age of sixteen, or vulnerable adults, a Vulnerable Sector Check and
- provision of two (form) letters of reference.
- all results of police record checks and reference letters are sent by the individual direct to the diocese without being seen by the PRC or anyone else in the Parish; and,
- all relevant information and records pertaining to complaints or notices of violation under the Protocol are maintained in secure stowage in the Parish office with access only by the PRC.
The diocese has set a challenging schedule to have all relevant staff and volunteers complete their orientation and approval process a soon as possible. Accordingly, I have asked Valerie Bobyk, a member of the Parish from St. Agnes and Chair of the Pastoral Council, to act as the Parish Responsibility Coordinator and to take charge of the process. Valerie will be contacting staff and the Catechist coordinators to decide on convenient times for orientation sessions in the very near future during which the specifics of the paperwork and the procedure to obtain the required police record checks will be explained and assistance provided.
We are all aware of the excellent record we have had throughout the Parish and the conduct and dedication of our clergy, staff and volunteers has always been exemplary. Nevertheless, you will all appreciate the necessity of demonstrating strict compliance with this initiative as well as the importance of developing the procedures to ensure that, as the years go by and people change, we have an organization and process in place to guarantee the dignity, respect, safety and security of all to whom we care for and minister.
Rev. John Williams