Royal Commission 01.1: The Administration AOG Manual – Excerpt

Before reading this article, you might want to read the previous article to develop a framework of what the Royal Commission has uncovered so far in Case Study 18 of the Hillsong Church, Assemblies of God and Frank Houston case:

Royal Commission 01: The Submission – AOG/ACC & Hillsong Exposed


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - Case Study 18:  a public hearing concerned with the institutional response to child sexual abuse of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and its affiliated churches.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Case Study 18: a public hearing concerned with the institutional response to child sexual abuse of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and its affiliated churches.

The excerpt below is from the submission prepared by Simeon Beckett, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission on 14 November 2014It only contains relevant information from the Administration Manual.

RCFactFile02- Brian Houston Hillsong

It is highly recommended to read the original submission. The submission, along with other Royal Commission documents, statements, evidence and transcripts can be found at the website:
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Case Study 18


3. National Policies of the Assemblies of God

33. In May 1999, the National Conference of the Assemblies of God in Australia adopted the Administration Manual. [44] The Administration Manual is the primary policy for the disciplining of those people who hold a certificate or credential to minister from the Assemblies of God and has been reissued by the Australian Christian Churches.

Discipline of ministers for serious sexual misconduct

34. The Administration Manual provides for disciplinary action where a minister has engaged in ‘any moral failure involving sexual misconduct.’ [45] Serious sexual misconduct is required to be dealt with in accordance with the Administration Manual.[46] Appendix 1, read wit h the Administration Manual, states that paedophilia is serious sexual misconduct. [47]

35. The Administration Manual provides as follows

1. EXCLUSION FROM MEMBERSHIP

In the case of prolonged or perverse sexual misconduct which has been brought to light and which appears to be clear from the evidence available, and in the event of no acknowledgment of guilt, a person may be excluded from membership in an Australian Christian Churches church.

2. DISMISSAL FROM THE MINISTRY

In cases where sexual misconduct has been admitted or appears highly likely from the evidence available and the complaints procedure described on page 5 has been undertaken, a minister may be dismissed from ministry. All effort should be made to restore such persons in their relationship with God, their church, their spouse and their family but restoration to ministry may not be possible due to the extent or perversity of the sexual misconduct .. .

3. ADMISSION TO A PROGRAM OF REHABILITATION

In some cases (following the procedure set out in sections 3 and 4) the State Executive may recommend that a minister apply for admission to a program of rehabilitation to ministry … [48]

36. Section 2 of the Administration Manual states that ‘the National Conference has determined that no rehabilitation should be considered in the case of a minister who offends in the area of … paedophilia.’ [49] Handling allegations of child sexual abuse: the Administration Manual

37. The Administration Manual sets out the following procedure for the handling of complaint s against a minister

1. Any complaint against a member of the ministry must be submitted in writing to the appropriate State Officer and be signed by the complainant or their representative. Each state should provide a telephone number and name of an independent person preferably female) who can be the first contact for a complainant. This contact should then arrange for the complaint to be taken to the appropriate State Officer. The name and number should be made available to all churches and pastors.

2. If a report of complaint is received, then the following should take place:

a) A full interview with the complainant whereby the allegations of the complaint are completely documented.

b} The accused minister is interviewed by the State Executive or at least two delegated individuals from the State and/or District Executives. At this meeting, the complaints are placed before the minister.

3. If the minister then denies the a/legations, the following should take place:

a) If there is more than one complainant the minister’s credential may be suspended for a period of thirty days … pending that investigation.

b} If there is only one complainant the State Executive may strongly recommend that the minister take a period of paid leave pending the investigation.

c) Regardless of the number of complainants, the minister must not make any contact with the complainant(s).

d} An investigating committee should be established with strict terms of reference and that committee should interview the complainant and the minister involved in the alleged conduct.

4. The investigating committee will then prepare a full report, with recommendations, for the appropriate State Executive.

5. The State Executive will then make a recommendation to the National Executive for determination.

6. If a complaint is found to be false and malicious, disciplinary action may be taken against the complainant. This may be by the State Executive if the complainant holds a credential or by a local church if this is appropriate. [50]

Publication

38. The Administration Manual also provides for the circumstances in which disciplinary action against a minister will be publicised

PUBLICATION OF EXCLUSION OR DISMISSAL

No publication of a dismissed minister’s name, or details of his/her offence, shall be made until all rights of appeal have expired and the State Executive has been authorized to do so by the National Executive. Any such publication will then be at the discretion of the State Executive as the circumstances demand. All other State Executives will be informed that the minister has been dismissed.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF ADMISSION TO A PROGRAM OF REHABILITATION 

As much as possible, the names of ministers admitted to a program of rehabilitation should not be made public. However, all State Executives should be informed of relevant information on a confidential basis and may respond to inquiries with a simple statement that the minister has been admitted to a rehabilitation program. [51]

References below refer to the documents on the Royal Commission website.

44 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 49), ACC.0001.001.0026. Note: subsequent references to the Administration Manual are to the 1999 edition unless otherwise stated.

45 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 49), ACC.0001.001.0026 at 0032. 46 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 49), ACC.0001.001.0026 at 0032. 47 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 49), ACC.0001.001.0026 at 0032-0033 and 0045. 48 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 49), ACC.0001.001.0026 at 0033. 49 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 49), ACC.0001.001.0026 at 0036.

50 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 49), ACC.0001.001.0026 at 0034-0035.

51 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 49), ACC.0001.001.0026 at 0035.

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