FIEC is a Fellowship of churches united in our belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whilst the churches of the Fellowship seek to help one another, FIEC is a voluntary association of independent churches and, in principle and in practice, we respect the autonomy of the local church and exercise no direct central control.

As a Fellowship, we recognise that abuse in all its forms is wrong before the Lord and deeply damaging to the victims. We are, therefore, committed to promoting best practices within our churches. Whilst FIEC is not responsible for safeguarding issues arising within its churches, we do expect all the churches of the Fellowship to have a safeguarding policy in place. Where there are allegations of illegal activity, we expect these to be reported to the statutory authorities.

If a church within FIEC has systematically failed to act in accordance with its own safeguarding policy and refuses to subsequently ensure appropriate action is taken internally, the church will, where appropriate, be requested by FIEC to deal with the matter carefully and urgently. Failure to do so is likely to result in the church being removed from FIEC by the Trust Board. Where necessary a report will be made to the statutory regulatory bodies.

Recent high-profile cases have also reminded us that church leaders, or others in the local church involved in leadership and pastoral care, can behave in ways that, whilst not illegal, do fall short of the standards expected of a person with pastoral responsibility. These behaviours range from serious misconduct (including coercion or control) to simply being unwise in relating to others. Again, given the autonomy of the local church, we expect local churches to take the initiative in taking appropriate disciplinary action where it is needed. Where a minister is a member of the Pastors’ Network and has been guilty of misconduct their membership will be reassessed and, where appropriate, they will be removed from the Network by the Trust Board. If required FIEC will report to statutory bodies.

FIEC encourages churches to make available appropriate pastoral care for all those affected and/or involved in such situations and will, on request, provide guidance for churches and pastors in regard to professional help that may be available.

Agreed by the FIEC Trust Board, January 2020.

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