Brian Farone, the North Central District Superintendent of the EFCA overseeing Minnesota addresses the issue of child sex abuse. This blog is grateful for taking a pro-active stance on this topic. After all modern evangelical Christianity is struggling with this topic.
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Hebrews 1:1-2 NIV
Brian Farone is on the left.
One of the most disturbing issues that exists in modern evangelicalism is that of child sex abuse. The issue is raging inside the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition this blog has been working at dragging out a story of an alleged sexual predator at David Platt’s church here in the Washington, D.C. area. In that sad story an adult volunteer groomed a number of teenagers for planned sexual abuse. Platt’s church covered it up and by the time the families went to the police, the statute of limitations has expired. You can read the latest in that situation in, “David Platt Apologizes for McLean Bible’s Mishandling of a Sexual Predator. While its a Step in the Right Direction the Celebrity Pastor Still Will not Name Scott Woods as the Alleged Predator.” In regards to the EFCA this blog is concerned about child sex abuse inside the denomination. When you consider it, a network of churches that is autonomous and that practices congregationalism is very attractive to a predator. For example inside the North Central District this blog raised concerns as to whether Redwood Falls Evangelical Free in Redwood Falls, Minnesota had the right procedures in place for the issue of abuse. You can read that in, “The Concerns that Exist with Redwood Falls Evangelical Free Abuse Reporting Policy.”
Brian Farone Addresses the Issue of Child Sex Abuse at the District Blog Recently
Brian Farone is the EFCA North Central District Superintendent. The North Central District covers Minnesota which is where the corporate EFCA headquarters is also located in Minneapolis. If you would like to read a biography of Brian Farone you can do so in, “Analysis of The North Central District of the Evangelical Free Church of America.” In October of 2019 Brian Farone addressed the issue of child sex abuse and protecting those who are vulnerable in a post called, “Taking Steps to Guard the Vulnerable and Strengthen Church Integrity.” I will have his post down below and then offer some commentary on what the District Superintendent has said.
As we travel around EFCA’s North Central District, our staff are often asked questions like…
What should we be doing to screen our paid staff and volunteer leaders?
How can we protect our children and reduce the risk of abuse within our ministries?
How should we respond when someone comes forward?
What can we do to strengthen the integrity of our church, especially related to how we protect and serve the most vulnerable among us?
At our 2019 NCD District conference, we shared the lessons we are learning and steps we encourage our churches to take to help guard the vulnerable and strengthen the integrity of our churches.
The list below is by no means exhaustive. We will continue to gather resources and share guidance in the future.
Here is what we recommend:
- We strongly encourage you to understand and implement Minnesota statute 604.20, which requires you to inquire about past sexual exploitation offenses when hiring to a ministry role.
- We have been reminded that every church needs to develop a security policy to protect the vulnerable, especially children.
- Likewise, we always encourage churches follow mandated reporting laws when a person is credibly accused of sexual abuse (Minnesota Statute 626.556).
- We encourage initial and ongoing background checks for all church staff.
- We recommend every church regularly seek input from your insurer regarding resources, tools, and best practices for your congregation.
- We strongly encourage you to require EFCA ministerial credentialing of all eligible staff members. This is the best way we can help you protect children and strengthen church integrity.
- Finally, it is very important that every church implement a compassionate and principled response and protocol to reports of abuse.
This month, we will be sending a letter to the leadership team of every North Central District church that includes these recommendations. We welcome your questions and are committed to walking alongside you as you work to protect the vulnerable and strengthen your church’s integrity in these important ways.
Feedback and Analysis on Farone’s Post
This blog would like to commend the EFCA District Superintendent for addressing this issue. This post is most timely and its good to see this being pushed. In the post by Farone he advised that churches be familiar with Minnesota statutes 626.556 and 604.20. The rules for mandated reporters can be accessed at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. In addition the North Central District encourages initial and regular ongoing background checks on staff and volunteers. This blog was pleased to see that Farone addressed a compassionate response when abuse situations do arise. And I want to be clear, this blog understands that abuse will occur. No plan or program if 100% full proof. Where churches get into trouble is when there is intentional neglect or they try and cover it up after the fact. This blog actually wrote about an abuse incident in the EFCA’s Eastern District that was handled professionally, swift and with transparency. You can read that in, “How the EFCA’s Salem Church in Staten Island, New York Handled an Alleged Sexual Abuse Situation.”
There is one concern that this blog would take issue with in Farone’s post. Up above he states the following. “We strongly encourage you to require EFCA ministerial credentialing of all eligible staff members. This is the best way we can help you protect children and strengthen church integrity.” Honestly I wish life were as simple as that statement. That having someone credentialed would solve the problem of child sex abuse. The fact of the matter is that abuse happens in many forms. It can happen from a volunteer, another member of the congregation, someone who has access to the church, or a pastor or someone on staff. This blog has heard incidents like that in differing denominations. Credentialing is not always full-proof and This blog acknowledges the other factors driving credentialing. After all its my understanding that Greg Strand is pushing hard the credentialing issue. That said credentialing cannot stop abuse. Even if someone is credentialed problems can still happen. One other issue that Brian Farone needs to understand is the changing technology and how predators are ahead of the curve on that issue. The EFCA needs to be on top of changing technology which is quickly evolving. That said this blog will continue to write about this topic and Farone’s post is a welcome, pro-active move towards a difficult issue. And in that sense this blog is grateful for the leadership exhibited in this area.