Safeguarding our Church

History and Purpose of Policy:  After years (2018 - 2022) of research, training and consultation with GRACE, we adopted a safeguarding policy. The Session and other leadership of ACC believe this policy is way overdue. 

God created each of us in His image and for His purposes. As His image-bearers, all people deserve to be treated with dignity, decency, and respect. (Gen. 1:27, Gal. 6:10, Eph. 2:10). For this reason, Astoria Community Church (ACC) is committed to protecting everyone in our church and ministry environment from harassment and the abuse of power and responding to any concerning or harmful situations with care for any who experience mistreatment and fairness to all involved. These commitments come from God, who loves justice, is a refuge for the hurting, and listens to the cry of the vulnerable. (Psalm 9:4-12, Psalm 46:1-11, Amos 5:24, I Peter 5:7)

Who is Protected by this Policy and Who has Responsibilities:  Everyone at ACC is entitled to a safe place to worship and serve, and each of us has the duty to ensure ACC is that safe place. Therefore, we all have the responsibility to actively live this policy out. A Safeguarding Team (ST) oversees the implementation of our safeguarding policy.  The team currently consists of 2 members of ACC (Andrea Mungo and JC Cha.) The team is seeking 1-2 more members. This team reports to the ACC Session.

Click here for an important article about recognizing and responding to potential abuse situations with children.

God is a refuge for those who are abused and never ignores the cry of one who is abused (Psalm 9:9, 12). Astoria Community Church is committed to being a refuge for those who are abused. We will do all we can to protect the vulnerable, care for those who are survivors, and hold abusers accountable. Abuse is not a sin like any other sin. Abuse is a particularly grievous sin (and often a crime), when someone in a position of power and trust violates or exploits someone who is powerless to stop it (Ecclesiastes 4:1)

As Christians we cannot face abuse if we are in denial about the reality of abuse. Instead, Jesus calls us to be “wise as serpents.” (Matthew 10:16) We all must take responsibility to become educated about abuse and take responsibility to uphold our policy. Jesus spoke often about abuse using the metaphor of wolves, shepherds, and sheep. Jesus warned about “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who would prey upon the vulnerable (Matthew 7:15). The Bible affirms the value and dignity of children and all who are made in God’s image. God condemns abuse in all forms. Jesus calls every Christian and every church to walk in the light with him and “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

Our goal is to prevent and respond appropriately to abuse by becoming a community that is educated on various forms of abuse and common dynamics, clarifying appropriate boundaries, and doing the hard work of holding each other accountable. All persons should experience an environment of safety and justice and one that is free from any form of abuse, harassment, or discrimination.

By its very nature, our community includes interaction with vulnerable children and adults. Sadly, predatory individuals often seek environments with vulnerable people. Child abuse is a common reality in our world and even in churches.  The data shows that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually abused in the U.S. before they turn 18. Other forms of child abuse are also common.1 Jesus condemned anyone who would abuse a child in the strongest possible terms: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6) Intimate partner violence, clergy abuse, stalking, sexual assault, and other forms of abuse against adults are also common. Jesus condemned those who used their spiritual position to exploit others (Mark 12:38-40). Abuse in all its forms is almost always perpetrated by someone known to the victim. Abusers utilize a variety of tactics to gain trust, deceive both victims and others within a community, and keep the abuse secret. This policy only states what must be lived out: as much as possible to take responsibility as individuals and as an organization to prevent abuse and hold those who abuse accountable.