While Title IV Disciplinary Canons address in detail policies and procedures for bullying, harassment and abuse by clergy, there is no policy or procedure to address bullying, harassment and abuse of clergy.
RESOLUTION 2014_AC140_3 DIGNITY AT WORK
The formation of a union comes amid unprecedented upheaval in the United Church, with the closing, on average, of one church a week. That pressure has been tough on ministers and congregations, leading to problems such as bullying, said Rev. Jim Evans of New Vision Community Church in St. Thomas.
“Somebody once said to me: ‘You can’t kick God, but you can certainly turn to God’s representative and kick her,’ ” said Evans, who served as interim president of the union chapter.
Evans said the wider church is aware of issues of workplace violence and harassment and has made efforts to address them. But ministers, often working in isolation, need more support than the church has provided.
One example: The bishop has the power to ordain, but the ordinand must have congregational (laity) support and endorsement as well as the consent of the Standing Committee - made up of clergy and laity. Without that, the bishop can't ordain.
The problem is not that the laity don't have power. It's that they don't think they have it or can use it. (It's the old "church family" dynamic stuff about "Fathers" and "Mothers" and "children").
In my opinion, this diocesan resolution is a pretty modest request. Indeed, it allows the bishop to appoint whatever members of his choice to the Task Force. It is certainly within the realm of possibility for him to set up a small group of people who will be blind and deaf to the problem and see no reason for a policy and process to be defined.
In my experience, excommunication simply creates martyrs and martyrs live on longer than the original conflict - or, worse, perpetuate the conflict, long after the initial incident has been resolved.
A policy which defines the problem and begins to define a process to deal with the problem is, I think, the intended goal of this resolution. (But, please do read the supporting information.)
Some bishops always see the clergy person as at fault and the "solution" to the "problem" is to initiate "dissolution of a pastoral relationship" (without a thorough examination of the situation or characters or actors or dynamic involved, so "the problem" continues).
Other good resources include (but are not limited to):
Well-Intentioned Dragons: Ministering to the Problem People in the Church, by Marshall Shelley
Specific solutions will come.
First, we talk and acknowledge, learn and discuss.