Safety Net’s UUA CSM Benchmarks of Progress

Version 2 (Update of 26 August, 2014)

Changes include:

  • Eliminating timeline. (The staff has developed a separate timeline.)
  • Making note of steps that Safety Net is aware have been completed or are actively in progress.



  1. Support UUA Board in improving the association’s response to misconduct.
  2. Clarify scope of work most needed.
  3. Define clear measurables to demarcate progress.

Scope in priority order

  1. Highest priority – improving response to clergy sexual misconduct (CSM).
  2. Improving response to sexual misconduct of other religious professionals (e.g., DRE’s).
  3. Prevention of sexual misconduct.
  4. Improving response to other forms of misconduct.
Rationale for this order:
  1. While improving the way the UUA responds to CSM has been worked on for over two decades (with four major task forces and studies), the work done has not been sufficiently effective. In particular, survivors of CSM experience the way they are treated as a form of oppression; all we have spoken to state that they have been revictimized and marginalized by UUA processes. The UUA must address this first. If the UUA starts prematurely looking at the misconduct of other religious professionals, there is a risk of replicating mistakes.
  2. The UUA appears to have been more effective at prevention (though this needs research to be sure). While this too needs review, it is therefore less urgent.
  3. Other forms of misconduct need to be scoped out separately. We hope lessons learned in the course of working on the UUA’s response to CSM will help with this when the time comes.

Benchmarks: Steps to Improve Response to CSM

In priority order

  1. Triage how victim/survivors who speak up are responded to
    1. [In Progress] Include adequate formal representation of victim/survivors (minimum of 2) in these three areas:
      1. The Board working group (this has begun with informal representation)
      2. Review of intake procedures (this has begun with informal representation)
      3. Review of MFC policies and procedures relating to CSM (include by Jan. 2015)
    2. [Done] Remove 2000 institutional apology from UUA.ORG (June 2014)
    3. [Done] Issue a new institutional apology (June 2014)
    4. [In progress] Assign advocates (not liaisons) as soon as victims reach out to UUA (June 2014)
    5. Make sure victims who speak up have pastoral support (Oct. 2014)
    6. [In progress] Rebuild advocacy program (Jan. 2016)
      1. Clarify role and timeline
      2. Train a pool of advocates
    7. Note: we do not recommend continuing the use of individual apologies from the President; instead we recommend personal calls about providing pastoral support and advocates.
  2. Truth-telling
    1. Survey of all member congregations of UUA (June 2015)
      1. Hire trusted outside experts (most likely Faith Trust Institute) to review and advise. The UUA cannot rely solely on insiders such as D. Pope-Lance, D. Haffner, and us (Safety Net). (Oct. 2014 to March 2015)
    2. Have them help determine how to reach out to victim/survivors from 2000 on
    3. National conversation for all who wish to be heard about CSM
      1. Kick off (GA 2015)
      2. Summary report (Jan. 2016)
    4. Regular Board updates to association, including at GA 2015 and GA 2016
  3. Update all procedures, job descriptions and documentation related to CSM with an eye to accountability and transparency
    1. [In progress]Overhaul portion of the website that covers CSM
      1. Make it accessible and inviting; figure out ways to reduce the universal trepidation of victims who are considering speaking up (Oct. 2014)
      2. Promote overhauled website with UU professionals (including all UU ministers and UUA field staff) to increase likelihood that they will show it to victim/survivors who might be willing to speak up (Jan. 2015)
    2. Clarify roles and lines of command. Who is responsible for what? What are the consequences for breach of duty? (June 2015)
      1. Create specific job descriptions with measurables
      2. Create a system of job reviews that measures effectiveness in addressing CSM
      3. Build in accountability
    3. Overhaul intake procedures (March 2015)
      1. Have a working 24/7 phone line (consider partnering with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center)
      2. Increase publicity/outreach
      3. Reconsider having all power residing in one person
    4. Review accountability relationship between Board and MFC (Jan. 2015)
    5. Improve MFC procedures related to CSM (June 2015)
      1. Build in more transparency, including reports on number of complaints received, etc. (as described in the Restorative Justice report)
  4. Improve services to victim/survivors who want help but are unwilling to reach out to UUA
    1. Include 800 number (referral hotline) on website (Oct. 2014)
    2. Offer pastoral care if they wish (June 2015)
    3. Inclusion in congregational work if they wish (June 2016)
  5. Improve services to congregations in the aftermath of CSM coming to light
    1. Update training of UUA staff and consultants sent to such congregations (Jan. 2016)
    2. Build scripts for how to introduce discovery of CSM to congregations (June 2016)
    3. Build in listening processes (June 2016)
    4. Create educational guidelines and curriculum for working with congregational leadership (June 2016)
      1. Give particular attention on how to work with victim/survivors to reduce likelihood of their marginalization
    5. Be prepared to conduct systems analyses with goal of improving policies and procedures. Model policies while helpful do not suffice. (June 2016)

      Be sure this includes:

      1. Methods to find and articulate issues in the congregation in need of work. (It is likely that (1) silence will be perpetuated by members who want to “move on” and (2) lay leadership will have languished.)
      2. Based on listening process and articulation of issues, be prepared to help kickstart rebuilding model polices and procedures. (June 2016)
        Those likely to need particular attention are:

        1. Bylaws
        2. Safe congregations
        3. Sexual harassment
        4. Committee on Ministry
    6. In inter-congregation covenant work, consider the consequences of CSM, including congregations’ responsibility to each other and how they can support each other in this area. (June 2016)
    7. Issue new edition of The Safe Congregation Handbook, perhaps offering free PDF and MOBI editions to those who sign up for an email list (June 2017)
  6. Improve services to after-pastors (June 2015)
  7. Research the best ways to respond to ministers to found guilty of CSM(June 2016)
  8. Create services for families of victim/survivors and families of ministers guilty of CSM (June 2016)

Previous Versions of the Benchmarks

This is a living document. We change it both by noting when things have been accomplished and by updating some of the benchmarks themselves as the process unfolds.