The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Southwest California Synod are committed to a safe church. There are several paths you may take to report abuse, including sexual abuse to a minor in the past, abuse of power by a church leader, racism or financial malfeasance.
Your report will be taken seriously and be investigated by the synodical bishop and/or ELCA representatives. You may email Bishop Brenda Bos at email@example.com to report. If your report is against the bishop, please contact the ELCA representative, Barbara Keller, at 773-380-2568 or at her ELCA email, which is her first name, followed by a period and her last name, @elca.org. Mrs. Keller is also available to receive any report, should you prefer speaking to her rather than the local bishop. You may also contact the Synod Vice President to report. Please contact our synod office at 818 507-9591 to receive that contact information.
Many people worry that reporting to a bishop or ELCA representative will not be effective, as church leadership protects church leadership. While the rights of the accused are taken into consideration, the experience of congregants and visitors in our congregations is our primary concern.
Your report will be taken verbally and in writing, and an investigation of the matter will take place. Most claims need corroboration of a witness or other party to lead to disciplinary actions, but we encourage you to make your report and allow the investigation to substantiate the claims. Anonymity cannot be guaranteed, but the person receiving the report can discuss your options at the time of the report. You will be told when you can expect to hear back and what next steps will be.
When a rostered leader is suspected of abuse, they are invited to a meeting with the synodical bishop. They are encouraged to bring an ally with them to this meeting. The bishop will interview the leader to determine their understanding of events. If the rostered leader admits the wrongdoing, next steps are discussed, which may include removal from their call and removal from the roster, but these are not guaranteed outcomes. Therapy, couples’ counseling, financial counseling or other professional interventions may also be employed. The goal is a safe church and healthy participants, so the health of all parties involved in considered.
The following link is from the ELCA website and provides more details about our processes.