A Statement from Hope
Hope Community Church was made aware of allegations of sexual assault accusing individuals associated with the church. Our first priority is always the safety and well-being of our congregation, community and staff, which is why we take all reports of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault extremely seriously.
We are incredibly saddened for anyone to experience the horrors of these crimes, and our thoughts and prayers are with all survivors of sexual assault as we believe these situations are traumatic, painful and deplorable at every turn. We stand with survivors and strongly encourage them to reach out to local authorities in expectation that truth will surface and any guilty party will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
As an advocate for biblical truth, justice and transparency, we are fully committed to the following:
- Internal Task Force: Although we have strong policies and practices in place to support a healthy work environment, we have assembled a female-led internal task force comprised of four women and three men to evaluate current policies, procedures and training with a goal of continued improvement.
- We are investigating third-party consultants to work with leadership and the task force to provide an external review of our policies and procedures as well as suggested content for ongoing training at the request of the task force.
- Training: We are training all small group leaders how to handle sensitive situations including confessions and allegations.
- Enhanced Reporting: We are creating a more comfortable reporting process for staff by adding two female liaisons to serve alongside the HR team.
- Continued Diligence: We will continue to run thorough background checks on all staff and contracted workers for the church and daycare.
- Cooperation: We will continue to work with law enforcement to fully cooperate in the event that these or future allegations are formally reported.
- Transparent Response: We will provide timely, transparent information to our staff, congregation and community as we are able.
It is important to note that there has been much misinformation communicated, and we welcome your questions. Specific questions about these allegations, should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-532-7590. Again, we strongly encourage survivors to report crimes directly to law enforcement.
As previously stated, it is important to note that there has been much misinformation posted on social media, and we welcome your questions. We intend to provide our account and share what we’re able to at this time in a way that respects the privacy of those involved and answers some of your anticipated questions.
Why has it taken so long for Hope to respond?
We understand that individuals want and expect a full and immediate response from the church related to these allegations. We do too. However, out of respect for anonymity, limited ability to work with or through local authorities due to unreported events, misalignment of facts and length of time between events and current reports, it has been very difficult to quickly assess and respond.
Why haven’t you responded with more information or transparency on social media?
We stand with survivors and will respect their space. At the same time, we will not be baited into a back-and-forth dialogue on social media. It is inauthentic to who we are as a church and inconsistent with how the Bible instructs us to engage with others.
We provided the reporting organization with the name and contact information for a female Hope staff member on Oct. 23 in an effort to work toward healing. The organization has only requested a video link at this time. We remain open to discussion.
Shouldn’t the church have reported these allegations if they were made?
Absolutely. The law is clear. As a mandatory reporter, the church is required to contact local authorities with any reported incident of sexual assault that takes place on our property or with a minor. Had we been made aware of any such allegation at any time, our staff members are trained to report it immediately. As responsible community citizens, we are immediately retraining every staff member.
Are any of the accused individuals still in their roles?
No. Our policy clearly states that accused and proven guilty are two different things. We investigate the accused, yield to police investigation where necessary, then determine what to do, which can be cause for disciplinary action. “Disorderly, immoral, unbiblical or indecent conduct (e.g., flagrant behavior or language) can be cause for disciplinary action up to and including termination.” The Church prohibits any inappropriate or offensive behavior including, but not limited to: Coerced sexual acts.
Based on allegations we are aware of:
- We pulled the accused contracted musician from rotation in March 2016.
- The individual mentioned as a small group member has never been a officially sanctioned Hope small group leader.
- One accused individual remains anonymous to us.
Will Hope be transparent in its findings and communication?
Yes. We are, and always have been, committed to complete transparency and cooperating immediately with law enforcement investigations of any sexual assault allegations in expectation that the truth will surface and any guilty party will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Did Hope send a cease and desist letter to a survivor’s family or to the reporting organization?
Absolutely not. We can confirm that neither Hope nor its legal counsel sent any person a cease and desist letter relating to these matters. Hope has absolutely no knowledge of any cease and desist letter relating to these allegations. It is never our desire to silence anyone who wishes to bring forth allegations of this nature or to silence survivors. Never.
As a concerned member of the community or congregation, who can I speak with about this?
We understand if you have questions and we welcome them. Specific questions about these allegations should be directed to email@example.com or 919-532-7590.
I would like to report a negative experience.
We strongly encourage survivors of sexual crimes to report them directly to law enforcement. If you would like to speak with a counselor or pastor, please call 919-532-7590.