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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Church Creates Guidelines for Sex Offenders That Want to Join Congregation

From USATODAY.com: It was a shocking moment for members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester, N.H.: One of their congregants was accused of sexually abusing an underage relative.

Church leaders gave the man one chance to remain. He had to sign an agreement to stay away from any church setting where there were children, limiting himself to events like adult education classes and one-on-one meetings with the pastor.

He refused and decided to leave, but the ultimatum let the church stick to its mission of trying to minister to all while keeping its children safe.

"We had a policy in place," said Sandra Greenfield, who was the church's director of education at the time and now holds a similar job at the South Church in Portsmouth, N.H. "There was no confusion about how we were going to handle the situation."

Eight years later, Greenfield and other Unitarian Universalists have created an online course with the Holyoke-based New England Adolescent Research Institute to help churches set guidelines for dealing with a member accused of a sex crime or a convicted sex offender who wants to join their congregation. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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