SECTION 3.1: RAY OF HOPE CHURCH POLICY
CONCERNING MINORS AT EVENTS
Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Christian Community devoted to
Christ among us and the entire People Of God. We therefore respect the dignity
of every individual and we reverence the presence of the Holy Spirit within
each person. Being a private organization that meets in public settings, we
initially choose to welcome all persons to share with us in our ministry and
worship. Our doors are open to the public, and this requires of us certain
responsibilities with regard to persons in our presence who are under 17 years
of age. Currently, 1997, the State of New York designates the age of 17 years
as the "age of consent," and considers all other persons under 17
(designated as "minors") to be incapable of giving consent to sexual
activity with those 17 years or older in any circumstances. SECTION 130.05 #3
of New York State Law Article 130 - Sex Offenses: "A person is deemed
incapable of consent when he is: (a) less than seventeen years old; or (b)
mentally defective; or (c) mentally incapacitated; or (d) physically
The State of New York also places a responsibility on all adults (including
those person 17 and older) in New York State, as well as all agencies,
churches, businesses, and even all families to insure a safe public life for
"minors" by maintaining a society that is free of sexual harassment
of "minors" by persons 17 years of age and older.
True enough, Ray Of Hope is a Christian Church, with Christ as our head, and we
therefore do not look to the state for our final authority in any matter.
However, Scriptures call us to cooperate with the state when it is holy and
good and right to do so:
Rom 13:1-7 Rom 13:1-7 Let every person be subject to the
governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those
authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists
authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur
judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish
to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive
its approval; for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is
wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain!
It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must
be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the
same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, busy
with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them--taxes to whom taxes are due,
revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom
honor is due.
Pet 2:12-16 Conduct yourselves honorably among the
Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your
honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge. For the Lord's sake
accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as
supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to
praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right you should
silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people,
yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.
Let us remember that we as voters representing the Christian vote, have helped
to elect the government of New York State, and that we expect the State of New
York to cooperate with us in matters of our Incorporation as a Church.
Therefore, Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ chooses to cooperate
with the People of the State Of New York with regard to the protection of
minors, and, we do so in the Name of Christ, as ambassadors of Christ Jesus (2
Corinthians 5:20), in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, for the witness of
Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus.
Therefore we have a responsibility to do everything within our ability to
provide a safe environment for those persons under the age of 17 whenever they
are participating in any activity or event sponsored by Ray Of Hope Church Of
Our Lord Jesus Christ Inc. We could do this simply by restricting our ministry
and activity to those persons who are 17 years of age and older, as do many
other organizations and businesses. However, our imitation of Christ Jesus
calls us to welcome children and adolescents (those under 17 years of age) in
His Name and thus following His example. In fact, three Gospels leave us
specific instructions from Christ in this regard.
Matthew 19:13-15 Then little children were being brought to
him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke
sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little
children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the
kingdom of heaven belongs." And He laid his hands on them and went on His
way. (cf. Mark 10:13-14; Luke 18:15-17)
Further, our Lord Jesus made a stern warning to anyone who might entertain the
idea of harming children, or misguiding children. He said:
Mat 18:6 "If any of you put a stumbling block before
one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a
great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the
depth of the sea.
Additionally, the Christian Testament calls upon the Pastors and leaders of the
congregation of believers to "tend" "guard"
"oversee" and "protect" the flock, and certainly that
implies the children as well as adults, entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit, as
Christ Jesus himself would do so.
I Pet 5:2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge,
exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have
you do it --not for sordid gain but eagerly.
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy
Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained
with the blood of his own Son.
This word "tend" is a Greek word (Strongs #4165. poimaino), and means
to tend as a shepherd (or fig. supervisor):--feed (cattle), rule. Shepherds
also guard their flocks from the "wolf."
Jesus clearly taught the image of the "shepherd" as one who guards
the flock from the "wolf," even to the point of having to sacrifice
his/her own life for the flock entrusted to him/her for care.
John 10:11-15 "I am the good shepherd. The good
shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the
shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep
and runs away--and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand
runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good
shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I
know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.
Therefore, following the example of Christ by welcoming, guarding, and
protecting persons under the age of 17 (classified as "children" and
"adolescents" in New York State) in our midst we commit to the
1. Provide a safe environment for minors who attend any function or event
sponsored by Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or when being
transported by an adult attendee or member of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord
Jesus Christ to, from, or between the locations of a Ray Of Hope Church Of Our
Lord Jesus Christ function or event, or when in the presence or care of any
adult at a Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ function, event, or
office and/or meeting space of the church.
2. Uphold all laws regarding the safety of minors, the abuse of minors, and
endangering the welfare of minors.
3. Require signed statements of disclosure of all criminal history or
disciplinary actions taken by any agency, organization or place of employment
in a person's past regarding any aspect (implied or actual) of sexual
misconduct for all employees, Vocational Ministry Candidates, Ordained and
Licensed Clergy, persons in appointed leadership roles as defined in the Bylaws
of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and/or of any other person the
Council or Pastors may believe necessary from time to time. When a charge or
conviction appears on said statements, a further investigation shall be
conducted at the expense of the individual whose history it is. The
investigation will involve providing the Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus
Christ Council with a complete set of official papers regarding the charges,
convictions, treatment, or any other information requested by the Ray Of Hope
Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Council. Various levels of disclosure may be determined
as necessary after the Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Council, or
any appointed agency or individual, evaluates the estimated risk to others that
such information may suggest. Compliance to conditions of disclosure or risk
management may be required of the person in question. Ray Of Hope Church Of Our
Lord Jesus Christ Inc. reserves the right to remove any person from any
position or level of activity in Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ as
it deems necessary for the protection of children and youth at Ray Of Hope
Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. Report all suspicions, confessions, and confirmed knowledge of child
endangerment and abuse to New York State authorities.
5. Take seriously all complaints and reports of sexual misconduct, threat of
sexual misconduct, or attempted sexual misconduct that is reported by a minor
or by an adult on behalf of the minor. The accused shall be prevented from
attending any Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ event or function until
the charges are sufficiently resolved by the appropriate authorities. If the
accused is in leadership at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ at the
time of the accusation, he/she will be automatically be suspended without
penalties, restricted from coming to anything related to Ray Of Hope Church Of
Our Lord Jesus Christ, and forbidden to have contact with the alleged victim.
If the alleged offender is not found guilty upon further investigation, he/she
may be restored to his/her position at the discretion of the Council of Ray Of
Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
6. Adult members and attendees of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
shall not accompany minors to church and church sponsored events unless they
are a relative or legally appointed guardian of the minor, as permitted by the
provisions in paragraph "7." Anyone who does bring a minor to church
shall give written report of the name, address, birth date, and relationship of
the minor to the church clerk before or at the time of the event. Should one of
the adults accompanying the minor be the church clerk, documentation shall be
presented to and stored by the church moderator.
7. When there is no relative of the minor attending Ray Of Hope Church Of Our
Lord Jesus Christ, a ride to, from or between Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord
Jesus Christ functions may be provided if all of the following requirements are
met: a) advance written approval of at least one adult parent, or legal
guardian of the minor is given to the clerk of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord
Jesus Christ and stored in permanent file before the transportation is
provided, or in emergency circumstances, written approval provided when the
adult arrives at the Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ function with
the minor in their presence, b) there must be two adults who are not married,
dating, or in a relationship in the car at all times the minor is in the car.
Two minors in the vehicle does not meet this requirement, specifically there
must be two adults present at all times while a minor who is not a relative of
the adult is in transport.
8. No transportation is to be provided to any person who may be under 21
without legal proof of age that they are 17 years and older.
9. No adult is to arrange to meet and socialize specifically with a minor at
Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ functions or events.
10. There must be two adults present at all times where a minor is otherwise
alone with an adult (clergy or non-clergy adult) at any Ray Of Hope Church Of
Our Lord Jesus Christ function, event, or in any meeting space or office. No
adult shall invite a minor to leave the building or space where an event is
taking place, or invite a minor to move aside from the congregation to
socialize, and/or walk, visit, etc. alone. If such a time for talking is
necessary, a second adult will have to go along. If confidentiality is an
issue, the second adult should be an ordained and licensed clergy person, as
they are required to keep all things confidential except knowledge or suspicion
of child abuse or endangerment, and some cases where a person is a mortal
threat to themselves or others.
11. All offices, and meeting rooms where Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus
Christ is meeting must have windows added to the doors or walls that are not to
be covered at anytime with curtains or any other article. These additional
windows are to be adequate to insure that at any time any person can see
through the window and see all persons in the office or room. Where no additional
window is feasible, it shall be considered intolerable that the door to that
room ever be closed or locked while Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
is using the building. The only exception to this is a rest room. Persons using
a rest room that has no window, and requires the door to be locked should
understand they might be asked to vacate the room for inspection at any time.
12. It is acknowledged that some adolescents believe they are able to make
their own decision regarding consent for sexual activity. However, the State of
New York does not regard this opinion, or any argument that the
child/adolescent "looks like an adult," "can make their own
decisions," "acts older than they really are," etc. Some persons
who have not attained the age of 17 years may even knowingly misrepresent their
legal age to receive the emotional attention of an adult. This has already
happened at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ on three occasions
during the year 1996. Therefore, all persons attending Ray Of Hope Church Of
Our Lord Jesus Christ should be prepared to present legal proof of age to be
placed in the permanent file. All persons under 18 years of age who plan to
attend regularly (taking responsibility for their own transportation) are required
to submit a photocopy of an identification paper that includes their birth
date, such as a library card, a school I.D. card, a copy of one's birth
certificate, etc. This will be placed in the permanent file, which is accessed
only by the clergy and council of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This way, should another adult ask us if someone is at least 17 years old, we
can provide an accurate "yes" or "no" answer.
13. Once an adult has attended three events organized by Ray Of Hope Church Of
Our Lord Jesus Christ within a period of three months or has inquired about
membership in the church, a copy of the current Policy Concerning Minors at
Events shall be delivered to that person and a record of such delivery shall be
placed in the permanent record of the church. This Policy Concerning Minors at
Events shall also be included in a packet used to encourage adults to become
members of the church and shall be distributed during membership classes. The
Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Council shall designate the person
responsible for delivering this information from time to time.
14. All persons attending Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord
Jesus Christ are required to adhere to the Policy Concerning Minors at Events.
Therefore, compliance with this policy shall be mandatory and failure to follow
the requirements explained herein shall be a violation of the Policy of
Courteous Behavior and subject to disciplinary action pursuant to it.
15. All persons attending Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ are
reminded herein that Scripture requires obedience to leadership in matters such
as this. The members, friends, and attendees of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord
Jesus Christ enjoy a completely elected clergy and leadership, and so it is obvious
that those elected and appointed by us would be attuned to our desires.
Further, since we pray for and with our leadership, and we require of them and
ourselves to listen to the Holy Spirit, we can be confident that our obedience
to a policy such as this is the Will Of God for us individually and as a
congregation. Therefore, we implore everyone to adhere to this policy out of
love for Christ, our Christian Community, and each other. An offense against
this policy obviously is an offense to Christ, our Christian Community, each
other, and a person or persons wrongly victimized. For Scripture admonishes us:
Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they
are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this
with joy and not with sighing--for that would be harmful to you.
Let us continue in our efforts to bring young people, infants through adults,
to Christ, to the Gospel of Freedom, and to Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord
Jesus Christ. We have much to share with young people and it is to this aim
that we have developed this policy to assure their protection and freedom while
they grow up among us. May God bless all the children and young people whom God
will bring our way. Amen.