Dealing with Registered Sex Offenders at SOTH (Approved – 10/30/11)

[The LORD] does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.(Psalm103:10-12) The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7) Do not judge, or you
too will be judged (Matthew 7:1) Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.    (1 Peter 3:8) Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

Scripture calls us to love and serve all repentant individuals with the word and sacrament. Our church therefore desires to help offenders strengthen their faith in God, return to society, rebuild relationships, and overcome old behaviors. Scripture also calls us to protect the vulnerable, and members expect their leaders to safeguard their well-being at church functions. The safety of both children and adults demands much more caution than an unquestioning, open invitation for anyone to participate in our congregation. This procedure is intended to reasonably promote the safety of all persons in the church while also reflecting Christ’s love and forgiveness to repentant registered sex offenders.

When a registered sex offender who desires participation (or is participating) in our church functions is identified, the pastor(s) will meet with the individual . The pastor(s) will obtain signed, dated permission from the individual to allow members of the Board of Elders to meet with the individual and his/her probation officer (if on probation). A case review team (consisting of the pastor(s) and two elders) will be convened. This team will meet with the
individual (and his/her probation officer, if on probation), to further determine the feasibility of allowing participation and the scope of participation. Based on the nature and gravity of the offense, terms and conditions of sentencing or probation, or current circumstances, a written covenant may be set up with the individual. This covenant presumes the individual’s
willingness to show Christian love to the congregation, and the congregation’s willingness to show Christian love to the individual. The covenant will:

• State specific types of participation allowed (church service attendance, provide recorded services only, no contact with children, chaperone at all times, etc).

• Permit notification of the congregation of the individual’s sex offender status, conviction, and scope of participation.

• Permit the pastor(s) to invite members to speak personally with them about the individual’s identity, should they have concerns.

• State how the congregation will be expected to show Christ’s love and forgiveness.

• Permit contact with any other person/group involved in working with the individual (counselors, therapists, etc).

• State the consequences of violation of any of the covenant’s provisions (termination of privileges).

If the covenant specifies, a standing monitoring team (a certain number of elders or deaconesses) will be set up to monitor the individual when attending church functions. This team will coordinate with the individual such things as arrival and departure times, and will escort the individual to and from the church function, as well as observing the individual at all times while at the church function. Any violation of the conditions of attendance must be dealt with immediately.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16)