PCEA Safe Church Code of Conduct
1. As a person in a position of leadership within the church you must always be concerned about the integrity of your position and remember that you are representing the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. You should avoid situations where you will be vulnerable to temptation and where your conduct may be construed to be a breach of God’s holy standards.
3. With regard to young people and children, appropriate conduct includes the following protocols:
a. When visiting children in their homes, or transporting children in vehicles, leaders will only do so if a parent or another appropriate adult is present.
b. There shall always be at least two approved leaders at any activity (except for crèche where a sole female carer is acceptable). Preferably there should be male and female leaders for mixed groups with male leaders for boys groups and female leaders for girls groups. It is recognized that there may be occasions where there is a sole leader when breaking up into small groups; but in such cases, the small groups will not be out of eyesight or earshot of others.
c. A camp or other activity involving overnight accommodation should include “camp parents” (ideally a married couple over the age of 25 years, of known maturity and Christian commitment) approved by the church. In such overnight accommodation there will be a strict segregation by sex, with the exception of married couples and families. Supervision of children and young people must be provided by a person of the same sex.
d. A biblical pattern of behaviour is to be observed with respect to modesty and standards of morality. Adults and children are to respect the privacy of others during activities that require undressing and changing clothes. Leaders are to set an example by protecting their own privacy in similar situations.
e. Initiations and secret ceremonies are forbidden.
f. Any activity involving children or young people is open to observation by parents and other adults with a legitimate reason.
g. Leaders have the right to ask persons who do not have a valid reason to be present at child related activities to leave. Police may be contacted if such persons refuse to comply with any such reasonable request.
h. If any personal counselling is required, it shall be carried out within the sight of other people (preferably another leader).
i. The consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs on the church grounds or during a church activity is forbidden. Any young person found under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs is to be counselled and removed from the activity. Any such drugs found on the church grounds are to be witnessed (by a second person) and removed. Where appropriate, police should be informed. (A small amount of wine for sacramental purposes may be stored on the premises, in a secure location.)
j. In any physical contact with young people or children, leaders will respect the feelings and privacy of those persons. Violence of any kind is forbidden.
4. The Bible commands us very clearly on purity of body and mind, for example in Ephesians 5:3,4, Matthew 5:27-29 and Job 31:1. This is expanded in our Larger Catechism (Nos 138 and 139). All leaders should be familiar with these standards and be prepared to uphold and encourage these values in their personal lives and in all their dealings with others. Any sexualised behaviour (apart from that within marriage as defined by the Word of God) is to be carefully avoided. What is forbidden includes, but is not limited to, the following:
a. inappropriate conversation, remarks and jokes of a sexual nature, coarse language, suggestive gestures and impure looks
b. pornographic literature or media of any kind (from books, magazines, newspapers, posters, videos, movies, DVDs, internet sites, photographs, etc)
5. Leaders are to the best of their ability to take reasonable action to maintain the safety of all persons in their care. This particularly applies to the young, the elderly and other vulnerable persons.
6. State Governments from time to time legislate for reportable offences in the realm of child abuse. These standards vary from state to state. When any such abuse of children and young people is seen or reported to you, these must be notified to the minister or an elder of the congregation for reporting to the Police or Government agency. You also have the right to go directly to the Police yourself and can ask advice from the congregational Protection Officer. The church’s own disciplinary procedures may also apply.
You, in your position of leadership, are required to report any the following (which are defined in the Safe Church Policy):
- physical or sexual child abuse,
- a child or young person at risk of significant harm,
- a child suffering neglect, and
- any sexual misconduct by leaders
7. Before you commence working with children and young people in your position of leadership in the church, you will undertake the Government Working With Children Check (WWCC) and provide a copy of the documentation and approval number to the congregational Protection Officer.
8. Initial training and regular follow-up training in Safe Church matters must be undertaken if you are in any position of leadership. Approved training sessions will be organised by the Clerk of Presbytery.