August 17, 2016
As a ministry leader, you should understand the legal risks associated with pastoral counseling, and how you can protect your organization and staff against allegations of sexual misconduct.
Screen everyone and create guidelines
To help your organization avoid a potential lawsuit, screen everyone who you intend to appoint as a counseling to others. Review their qualifications, check at least two of their references, and verify that the counselor has no record of criminal activity or sexual misconduct.
Put your counseling procedures into writing. Conduct counseling sessions only on church premises when others are present in the building. Ensure that at least one other church leader is aware when the counseling session occurs.
Guard against the development of inappropriate attachments or relationships between the counselor and the counselee. Establish a set number of counseling sessions that a particular counselor can provide to an individual. Instruct counselors to refrain from any speech or physical contact that the counselee or others could construe sexually or romantically. Even hugging could be misunderstood.
Prohibit any pastor or counselor from privately counseling individuals of the opposite gender and make sure that a parent or other adult is present when counseling a minor. Few counselors start out with the intention of committing sexual abuse, so assign accountability partners who regularly check with counselors to see if they are struggling with any problems.
Keep records secure and confidential
Counselors should take notes during all counseling sessions—documenting the duration and time of the appointment, who was present, and any topics covered during the session. Document all one-on-one contact with people who are currently in counseling or who have been in counseling previously. Secure all notes and records relating to counseling sessions and keep them strictly confidential.
As school is back in session, it’s important to make sure your school is equipped with the correct safety procedures. Thinking about your school’s physical security as a series of layers can help you find gaps in your plan. Transportation and volunteers are just two important aspects of your school safety plan to think about.
Anyone who turns on the news, flips through a magazine, or browses the web can see that American society and culture are experiencing rapid transitions. Some ministries have valid concerns that issues surrounding societal shifts may expose them to negative publicity, governmental scrutiny, or litigation.
Cyber security is increasingly crucial in our technologically advanced world. Scammers use many schemes when attempting to steal your data, but you can outsmart them by understanding their methods.
When conflict occurs in the church, it can threaten the unity of a congregation. Experts say the only way to heal conflict is to acknowledge and address it. But how?
Theft isn’t just an issue for banks and large companies. Sometimes the kind and caring nature of your ministry is exactly what makes you a target. Organizational Optional Theft Coverage helps to assure that, if a thief takes advantage of your institution, what’s lost can be restored.
Earthquakes are starting to rumble the earth again. An earthquake’s impact can range from being a minor annoyance to causing a major disaster. The safety planning you do now can help your ministry protect its people and property.
Most ministry leaders don’t realize there is funding available to non-profit employers including churches, schools, colleges, and camps. This post includes some highlights about the credit and guidance on where to start to see if your ministry is eligible.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially started June 1, and weather experts say this season is likely to produce above-normal activity. Take action to prepare your ministry to withstand a hurricane now, so you’re not scrambling when a watch or warning is posted.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Though child abuse may not be something you could ever imagine happening within your ministry, sexual abuse of a minor is one of the top five reasons churches end up in court, according to Church Law & Tax. Studies also show that a child is much more likely to be sexually abused by a trusted adult than a stranger.
When severe storms strike, they can produce high winds and tornadoes. Damaging winds can wreak havoc on your ministry’s property and to buildings. A high wind event can crash debris through your windows, strip your siding, down trees on your parking lot, peel shingles off your roof, and fling back the flashing.
Thieves are taking advantage of soaring precious metal prices. Take steps to protect your ministry’s vehicles and property.
Preparing for this Christmas season may require additional creativity, due to the uncertainty of what COVID-19 may bring in our local community.
A mid-November deadline in the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) bankruptcy proceedings may have you wondering what the organization’s bankruptcy filing means for your ministry if you ever hosted or chartered Boy Scout Troops.
Organizations that obtained Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding through the CARES Act can have their loans forgiven, turning them into grants. To qualify, each borrower must file a forgiveness application with its PPP lender, proving that it followed the rules. If your church, school, college, or camp meets all the criteria, 100% of its loan can be forgiven.
We’re right in the middle of hurricane season in Georgia and Tropical Storm Laura is strengthening and expected to make landfall next week. These storms bring high winds and flooding that can easily damage your ministry’s property. Take steps to prepare for this and other tropical storm threats.
Learn about the CARES Act and two loans for which ministries may be eligible, since Congress authorized additional funding April 23.
As concern over the dangers associated with the spread of a new coronavirus, COVID-19, spreads, our agency and Brotherhood Mutual want to keep you informed and provide best practices for managing the spread of this and similar illnesses at your ministry.
The first Sunday in February is a big day for sports fans. In fact, many Americans view Super Bowl Sunday as a national holiday. Friends and families will gather this year to watch the big game, enjoy delicious snacks, and of course, critique the commercials that go along with game day.
Recently, we learned about two major overseas incidents involving pastors on mission trips. The first incident involved a pastor being hit by a motorcycle while running. The second was a bus accident involving two pastors. The runner and one of the two bus passengers sustained extensive injuries.
Last month, the IRS announced that its initiating hundreds of church exams to test compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While many provisions only apply to churches with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), even smaller churches could potentially violate provisions applicable to health benefit plans with as few as 2 plan participants.