Addressing Disruptive Behavior

PROCEDURE FOR ADDRESSING DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR

UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH IN EUGENE

While openness to diversity is one of the prime values held by our congregation and expressed in the values of who we are as Unitarian Universalists, we affirm the belief that our congregations must maintain a secure atmosphere where such openness can exist. Concern for the congregation as a whole must be given priority over the privileges and inclusion of the individual.

The following policy shall guide us in actively and promptly addressing situations in which individuals’ behavior threatens the emotional and/or physical security of our members and friends. Our church will follow all applicable state laws and reporting procedures for physical abuse.

In a case of clear and present danger, if the person in the pulpit is the first to recognize this, a sign will be given to the Head Usher to immediately call the police. The person in the pulpit is the most likely to see everything going on in the sanctuary and social hall, but if an usher observes potentially dangerous behavior, then an immediate call to 911 is in order.

In situations that are not as seriously urgent:

When a person’s disruptive behavior requires an immediate response, it will be undertaken by the Minister and the leader of the group involved. If in a meeting where the Minister is not present, the leader of the group will ask the offending person or persons to excuse themselves. Or, the meeting may be suspended until it can be safely resumed. If there is a question of safety, the leader of the group or the Minister will call 911.

The Minister and the President of the Board will be notified immediately if not present at the time of the incident.

A follow-up letter or document detailing what steps must be taken by the offending party or parties before he/she/they may return to the activities involved will be sent by the Minister to the offending party or parties.

For ongoing situations and those not requiring an immediate response, the process begins with a written, signed explanation of the disruptive behavior and its impact, from the person or people who witnessed it, to the Minister.

The Minister will determine whether he/she wishes to handle the situation privately, or request formation of an ad hoc committee from among the members of the Committee on Congregational Ministry. This committee will include the Minister and two members of the COCM. Further investigation and reflection of the situation will take place at this point. The Minister will meet with the person or persons considered disruptive to the well-being of the congregation to hear their concerns and to let them know that concerns have been raised from others regarding what is being considered a disturbance to the peace of the church.

The Minister and/or the ad hoc committee will respond to situation as they arise, using their own judgment, without defining acceptable behavior in advance.

The Minister and/or the ad hoc committee will need to evaluate each situation to determine if it is:

  • Dangerous: Is the individual the source of a threat or perceived threat to persons or property, including herself or himself?
  • Disruptive: How much interference with church functions is occurring?
  • Offensive: How likely is it that prospective or existing members will be driven away?

Responses by the Minister and/or the ad hoc committee may include:

  • No Action: After meeting with all persons involved, a resolution may be reached without further action needed.
  • Warning: The Minister and a COCM Member will meet with the offending individual(s) to communicate the concern and expectations for future behavior.
  • Suspension: The offending individual is excluded from the church and/or specific activities for a limited period of time, with the reasons and the conditions of return made clear in writing.
  • Expulsion: The committee recommends that the offending individual should be expelled from membership or friendship with UUCE. This will need approval of the Board of Trustees. The Minister will then write a letter to the individual(s) explaining the reasons.

(Adopted 10 March 2011)