Nov. 2, 2004
By Linda Bloom*
YORK (UMNS) – An independent panel will be named by December to review
reports of child abuse situations decades ago in United Methodist
action taken recently by the denomination’s Board of Global Ministries,
the three-member panel is intended as a "fact-finding, consultative and
primarily pastoral" body. It will be independent of the mission agency,
serving in advisory capacity, but will not reach conclusions about
civil legal liability.
panel’s main task will be to follow up on a report authorized by the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that was publicly released in October 2002.
The Presbyterian investigating committee concluded that sexual abuse of
missionary children occurred between 1945 and 1978 in what is now the
Democratic Republic of Congo, at both a Presbyterian school in Lubondai
and a Methodist-Presbyterian Hostel in Kinshasa.
Some of those abused over the years were children of Methodist missionaries, the board learned.
Rev. R. Randy Day, who assumed leadership of the Board of Global
Ministries after the report was released, appointed a task force to
assess the situation last March. The task force studied the final report
of the Presbyterian investigating committee, met with the abuse
survivors and recommended a process "toward healing the deep wounds that
have been carried so long."
independent panel is expected to receive allegations of child abuse –
including physical and/or sexual abuse – in cases where the accused was
related to the board or its predecessors in a mission setting or the
abused individual was in the mission setting under the care of the
would then be made into the allegations and the findings conveyed to
the appropriate church officials. Panel members also would "engage the
survivors in exploring possibilities by which healing and wholeness can
The panel will report back, at least annually, to board directors.
General Board of Global Ministries is committed to care for the
survivors who have identified themselves and for those who may yet feel
the anguish of abuse suffered as children entrusted to our care and
supervision," said the board’s report recommending the "Independent
Panel for the Review of Child Abuse in Mission Settings."
mission agency thanked the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) "for creating a
model that has proven to be very effective and for sharing their
process and experience with us."
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.