The Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent strives to be an inclusive community, affirming our differences in beliefs, opinions and life experiences. However, concern for the safety and well-being of the congregation as a whole must be given priority over the privileges and inclusion of the individual. To the degree that the disruptive behavior compromises the health of this congregation or violates the spirit of our covenant, our actions as people of faith must reflect this emphasis on security. When any person’s physical and/or emotional well-being or freedom to safely express his or her beliefs or opinions is threatened, the source of this threat must be addressed firmly and promptly, even if this ultimately requires the expulsion of the offending person or persons.
It is the intent of this policy to provide a framework for church leaders to evaluate and address specific disruptive behaviors. Invocation of this policy is not a step to be taken lightly, and should be undertaken with careful consideration by the Committee on Ministry in consultation with the Minister and/or Moderator.
Every situation involving disruptive behavior is unique, and must be handled with precision and care. When corrective action is required, it should be undertaken in such a way as to protect the best interests of the congregation and all of its members. This document is not intended to be a strict procedural outline, or a diagram of a legal proceeding. The exact method of its implementation is left to the discretion of the Committee on Ministry, with the understanding that they will exercise wisdom, justice, charity and restraint in the execution of their duties.
There have been times when the disruptive behavior of an individual within the church building has led members to voice their concerns about one or more of the following:
- Perceived threats to the safety of any adult or child;
- The disruption of church activities or damage to church property;
- Diminishment of the appeal of the church to its potential and existing membership.
The following shall be the policy of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent in dealing with these issues:
- If an immediate response is required, this will be undertaken by the Minister, if available, and/or the Moderator of the Board of Trustees and/or the leader of the group involved. This may include asking the offending person or persons to leave, or suspending the meeting or activity until such a time as it can safely be resumed. If further assistance is required, the Police Department may be called. Anytime any of these actions are undertaken without the Minister or Moderator being present, the Minister and Moderator must be notified. A follow-up letter detailing what steps must be taken before returning to the activities involved will be sent by the Minister and/or Moderator in consultation with the Committee on Ministry to the offending party or parties.
- Situations not requiring immediate response will be referred to the Committee on Ministry who will respond in terms of their own judgment observing the following:
- Each situation is unique and will be treated as such.
- Persons exhibiting disruptive behavior will be dealt with as individuals; in each case compassion will be used.
- The committee will collect all necessary information.
- When necessary or helpful, the committee may request other appropriate individuals to participate in the deliberations.
- To aid in evaluating the problem, the following points will be considered:
- DANGEROUSNESS – Is the individual the source of a threat or perceived threat to persons or property?
- DISRUPTIVENESS – How much interference with church functions is going on?
- OFFENSIVENESS – How likely is it that prospective or existing members will be driven away?
- To determine the necessary response, the following points will be considered:
- CAUSES – Why is the disruption occurring? Is it a conflict between the individual and others in the church? Is it due to a professionally diagnosed condition of mental illness?
- HISTORY – What is the frequency and degree of disruption caused in the past?
- PROBABILITY OF CHANGE – How likely is it that the problem behavior will diminish in the future?
- The committee will decide on the necessary response on a case-by-case basis. However, the following three levels of response are recommended:
- LEVEL ONE – The committee shall inform the Minister and Moderator of the problem and either the Minister or Moderator or members of the committee shall meet with the offending individual to communicate the concern.
- LEVEL TWO –The offending individual is excluded from the church and/or specific church activities for a limited period of time, with reasons and the conditions of return made clear. If it is decided that expulsion will take place, a letter will be sent by the Moderator and Minister explaining the expulsion and the individual’s right and possible recourse.
- LEVEL THREE – The offending individual is indefinitely excluded from the church premises and all church activities. Before this is carried out, the committee will consult with the Board of Trustees and the Minister. If it is decided that expulsion will take place, a letter will be sent by the Minister and Moderator explaining the expulsion and the individual’s rights and possible recourse.
- Appeal: Any action taken under the above items may be appealed to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.
Nothing herein restricts any church Minister, employee, contractor, member or visitor from reporting actions or facts to police or other authorities as they deem appropriate or as may be required by law.
Records: Those records related to the actions under this policy shall be maintained as confidential records along with other personnel records as directed by the Minister in locked file cabinets, except as may be otherwise directed by the Board of Trustees.
Revised & Approved 08/13/2008