Holy Synod approves “Stewards of Children” training program for all clergy, youth workers

Author: Staff
Date Published: 03/26/2015

At their spring session held at the Chancery here in mid-March 2015, the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America approved the use of the “Stewards of Children” [SOC] sexual abuse prevention training program.

During the last week of March, a letter was sent to all bishops and clergy concerning the program.  The letter is available in PDF format.

“Developed by the not-for-profit organization “Darkness to Light”, the SOC program may be undertaken on-line or in person,” said Cindy Heise, Coordinator for the OCA’s Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations [ORSMA].  “The training program, which provides education on the prevention of sexual abuse of children as well as how to respond when a child discloses abuse, usually takes two hours to complete.  And it is free of charge to anyone who registers through ORSMA.

“All individuals age 16 and over who work with youth in various capacities are required to take abuse prevention training (PSP 14.01),” Mrs. Heise emphasized.  “These positions include all bishops, priests and deacons, and youth workers/ministers; youth leaders, mentors, and advisors; Church school teachers; and so on.”

It is recommended that SOC training be undertaken every three years. Shorter modules for those completing SOC may be pursued in the “off” years between each full training session.

To register for the on-line training course, please contact Mrs. Heise at cheise@oca.org or 516-922-0931.  As a certified facilitator, she also is available to provide training in person to groups.  Those interested in scheduling a group training session are encouraged to contact her.

In addition, Mrs. Heise will offer SOC training during the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta on July 22 and 23.  Seating will be limited to 40 participants per session, so those interested in attending should sign up on-line at http://18aac.oca.org/registration  When completing the registration process, participants should select “Protecting the Youth – Cindy Heise and Bernie Wilson” for either Wednesday or Thursday.