The Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville is a welcoming and beloved community, where openness to diversity is one of the prime values held by our congregation as expressed in our Principles. We affirm the belief that our congregation must maintain a secure atmosphere where such openness can exist. Concern for the congregation as a whole is given priority over the privileges and inclusion of the individual.
There have been times when disruptive behavior of an individual in the church building or on the church grounds has led members to voice their concerns about one or more of the following:
- Perceived threats to the safety of any adult or child;
- The disruption of church activities;
- Diminishing appeal of the congregation to its potential and existing membership.
The following policy shall guide us in actively and promptly addressing situations in which individuals’ behavior threatens the emotional and/or physical security of our members and friends. The privacy/anonymity of the allegedly offensive individual will be maintained at all times, except in cases in which he/she poses a threat to others. The fellowship will follow all applicable state laws and reporting procedures.
It is serious business to file a formal complaint against a fellow member; doing so should never be taken lightly. Every attempt should be made to resolve disruptive situations by addressing them directly, with compassion and concern, before resorting to the use of this policy.
- During a church service or activity, when a person’s disruptive behavior requires an immediate response, it will be undertaken by the Minister, if available, and/or the leader of the group involved. This may include asking the offending person or persons to leave, or suspending the meeting or activity until it can be safely resumed. If further assistance is required, the Police Department may be called.
- Anytime such actions are required and the Minister is not present, then the Minister, President of the Board and the Chair of the Right Relations Committee must be notified and the incident documented with date, time and individuals involved as soon as it is practicable.
- A follow-up letter or document detailing what steps must be taken by the offending party or parties before he/she/they may return to the activities involved will be sent by the Minister to the offending party or parties.
- Situations requiring an immediate response will be referred to the Board-appointed Right Relations Committee to further investigate the matter. When appropriate and whenever possible, the Right Relations committee will inform the person to that a complaint has been filed and is being investigated.
- The Right Relations Committee will respond to situations as they arise, using their own judgment, without defining acceptable behavior in advance.
- People and situations will be dealt with individually.
- Stereotypes and stereotyping is unacceptable.
- The Minister or the Right Relations Committee will collect any additional information required to obtain a complete picture of the situation.
- If and when the Right Relations Committee considers such information essential to performing its task, the Board shall authorize funds to pay costs for a professional background check, to provide such facts as the correct identity of the person in question and records of past criminal activity involving threats, harassment, or actual harm to other persons or property.
- To aid in evaluating the problem, these points will be considered:
- Dangerous: Is the individual the source of a threat or perceived threat to persons or property, including himself or herself?
- Disruptive: How much interference with church function is occurring?
- Offensive: How likely is it that prospective or existing members will be driven away?
- To determine the necessary response, these points, among others, will be considered:
- Why is this disruption occurring? Is it a conflict between the individual and others in the fellowship? Are there mitigating circumstances?
- What is the frequency and degree of disruption caused in the past?
- How likely is it that the problem behavior will diminish in the future?
- The Minister or the committee will respond on a case-by-case basis. The following levels of response are options the Minister or the committee can implement:
- Level 1/No Action: It may be determined that the complaint is not warranted, and the Minister will explain and discuss this with the person who filed the complaint.
- Level 2/Warning: The Minister or a member of the committee shall meet with the offending individual to communicate the concern and expectations for future behavior.
- Level 3/Suspension: The offending individual is excluded from the fellowship and/or specific activities for a limited period of time, with the reasons and the conditions of return made clear in writing.
- Level 4/Expulsion: The committee recommends that the offending individual should be expelled from membership in UUCJ. The minister will write a letter to the individual per UUCJ ByLaws III.6.
Added per board approval July 11th, 2016