To the People of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC and the Yukon,
As a part of our commitment to ensuring that our churches are safe places for all people, the dioceses of our province use the Safe Church training program provided by Praesidium. This program provides both lay and clergy with training on issues of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct and is mandatory for both employees and volunteers. This training, as well as background checks, is part of our commitment to prevent sexual misconduct, harassment, and abuse in our communities. Each diocese also has policies and procedures which are followed in the event that any form of abuse is reported.
At the recent House of Bishops we, along with all the bishops of the national church, further committed to:
i) By the end of 2022, review our diocesan policies and procedures as per the 2019 General Synod Resolution A128 (https://gs2019.anglican.ca/cc/resolutions/a128/). Should any of our policies and procedures fall short or not reflect a commitment to trauma-informed response, they will be revised.
ii) Extend an invitation to Mandy Marshall, Director for Gender Justice for the Anglican Communion, to meet with both the House of Bishops and the Council of General Synod in the Fall of 2022. Mandy is the former Director of Restored (https://www.restored-uk.org/) and has a deep understanding of the experience of trauma and how the Church can respond to ensure safety and flourishing for all. We look forward to learning from her.
iii) Work with the national church to create a central web access for complainants, with the Safe Church Charter, on the national website. Along with all the other dioceses across the country, we will create a central portal on the national church website so that people can easily access the process and policy of each diocese and be directed as to how to make a complaint.
iv) Training for Bishops in the effects of trauma – and the need for trauma informed approaches to handling misconduct allegations. This training will begin at our next House of Bishops meeting in the Fall of 2022.
As bishops we commit not only to these four things but to reporting back to you on what we have learned, and how we might need to change. We ask for your prayers and your support. In this Holy Week, as we all walk the path to the cross, we pray you will know God's presence even in this time of fear and suffering in the world, and that the Easter Season will bring renewed joy and hope as we celebrate Christ's resurrection.
Yours in Christ,
The bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC and the Yukon
The Most Rev. Lynne McNaughton, Metropolitan and Bishop of Kootenay
The Rt. Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee, Diocese of British Columbia
The Rt. Rev. David Lehmann, Diocese of Caledonia
The Rt. Rev. Jane Alexander, The Territory of the People
The Rt. Rev. John Stephens, Diocese of New Westminster
The Rt. Rev. Lesley Wheeler-Dame, Diocese of Yukon