¶ 910 GUIDING PRINCIPLES
The discipline process seeks to honor the principles taught by our Lord and others in the Scriptures in bringing restoration to believers who have ignored or violated covenant commitments. These underlying principles are also in keeping with commonly established ecclesiastical law and in accordance with the principles of natural justice. These principles include:
- A Christ-like and prayerful spirit will be maintained at all times by all parties.
- Reasonable effort will be made to clear up an accusation or to deal with an offending person without the formality of a church trial.
- The accused person will be presumed innocent until found guilty.
- All accusations and proceedings will receive prompt and careful attention by the proper authorities. In all cases, if the alleged offence is criminal or involving the abuse of children, the matter is to be reported to the police, or in the case of child abuse, to the appropriate child welfare authorities as outlined in the denomination’s child abuse policy.
- Any accusation must be submitted in a written and signed disclosure of evidence. Any
confession(s) by the accused must be in writing and signed.
- The form of discipline (private admonition and counsel, public reproof, censure) is to be commensurate with the offence and will be conducted in accordance with accepted principles of confidentiality.
The process of admonition and counsel will seek to:
- give a clear explanation (with evidence) of the offending conduct;
- advise of the impact of the offending conduct on personal and corporate spiritual life and witness;
- set out to the accused the available options which will lead to restoration or censure;
- obtain signed acknowledgement and confession of the wrong doing by the accused, leading to sincere repentance;
- reconcile and restore broken relationships through forgiveness.
During the process of correction or discipline, members and ministers will be held accountable for their relationships. This includes:
- submitting to the counsel and discipline of those in authority;
- maintaining fellowship with peers;
- refraining from irresponsible talk;
- demonstrating a consistent Christian life before family and community.
In all cases, those giving admonition and counsel will not neglect the care of offended parties or their participation, where appropriate, in the restoration process. The administration of these disciplinary provisions must always be motivated by love, rooted in prayer, and undertaken in a spirit of humility.
In order for a matter of church discipline to proceed in good faith, all persons involved in any way must agree to be bound by the decisions made as a result of proper disciplinary process. All participants are to be advised and agree in writing that recourse to a civil court is waived once a disciplinary proceeding begins.