Youth and Children

METHODIST CHURCH IN ZIMBABWE
YOUTH AND CHILDREN MINISTRY

YOUTHS AND CHILDREN POLICY.

FOREWORD

The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe has utmost respect to human life and dignity. The church has the mandate to ensure that all children and youths are nurtured in an optimum environment that promotes love, discipline, growth, peace and transformation. The church exists also to foster integrity, accountability and transparency to its members. The Youth and Children Ministry is mandated to augment the promotion of the work and ministry of children and youths, hence the need to enforce this policy into the regulatory and operational framework of the church.

The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe’s Youth and Children Protection Policy strives to complement already existing instruments which are designed to promote the proper upbringing and societal modelling of children and youths within the church. These include, though not limited to:
• Children’s Act (Chapter 5:06)
• The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
• All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) Child Protection Policy
• Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Standing Orders and Rules
• Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Handling of Church Funds

Children and youth are valued in nearly every culture on the planet. But because they often cannot protect themselves, it is the duty and responsibility of parents, community and tribal leaders to protect them in any and every way possible.
Churches can be potential targets for abusers. Due to the voluntary nature of the membership of the church, a high degree of trust which may at times be erroneous, is placed on volunteers. Further, churches generally have poor screening policies for such volunteers, and this provides opportunities for close contact and relationships with children. Because of these factors, we must know, for example what child abuse is, be able to recognize it, put plans in place to prevent it, screen our volunteers appropriately, and have a solid response system.
The Church recognizes and respects the autonomy of the districts, local churches and other Methodist and Wesleyan entities. Nonetheless, the faith, actions and concerns of the local churches are intrinsically intertwined with the districts and the Church at connexional level especially regarding liabilities that stem from any local occurrence that results in harm to a child.

Presiding Bishop


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Continue to scroll down the page to view the following sections:

DEFINITION OF TERMS
PURPOSE OF THE POLICY
SCOPE OF THE POLICY
CHILDREN RIGHTS
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHILDREN
STAFF AND YOUTH LEADER SCREENING
RULES THAT APPLY TO ALL YOUTH ACTIVITIES GENERAL POLICY
GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR THE MINISTRY
CONDUCTING OUTINGS, CAMPS AND REVIVALS
COMMUNICATION PROTOCOL
Events outside the Circuit
Events outside the District
Events outside the Country
TRAVELLING
Indemnity Forms
Database
Time of travel
HANDLING OF CHURCH FUND
YOUTH WEEK AND YOUTH IN ACTION
USE OF CHILDREN’S PHOTOGRAPHS

DEFINITION OF TERMS

Child- a child is anyone under the age of 18.

Child Abuse- One or more of the following:
 a) committing or coercing another person to commit an act or acts of abuse against a child
 b) possessing, controlling, producing, distributing, obtaining or transmitting child exploitation material
 c) Committing or coercing another person to commit an act or acts of grooming or online grooming.

Church Sponsored Activity- Includes any and all gatherings that arise from any worship, educational, childcare, fellowship, administrative, pastoral, mission or recreational event generated or organized by the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe.

Youth – anyone aged above 18 years but below the age of 35 years.

Youth Advisor – any appointed elder who is elected by the youths and approved by the leaders meeting to provide spiritual and societal advice to children and youths.

Youth Pastor – any minister of religion who has been appointed by the Circuit Superintendent and approved by the leader’s meeting to oversee the work of Youths at Society or Circuit level. Any ordained minister of religion who is elected by the District Youth Council, approved by the District Synod and appointed to oversee the work of the Youths.

Youth worker – shall refer to and also mean any appointed youth advisor include full time youth workers employed by the church.

Visitor – anyone who is not a member of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe but has joined a gathering or a fellowship programme of youths so as to fellowship.

PURPOSE OF THE POLICY

As an oasis of life and hope, the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe is committed to providing a safe church environment that is adequate for the youths and children to grow in all spheres of life. This policy aims to give procedures and guidelines that safeguard youths, children, ministers and adults in the youth ministry.

The purpose of this protocol is to prevent, in foreseeable manner, any abuse wrought upon the children and youth of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and to minister, with full Christian concern, to any and all individuals who have been victimized or accused, and to provide guidance to personnel on how to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct whether they involve minors or adults.

To that end, it is intended that these written guidelines shall be distributed to all persons in leadership positions, personnel of the church, whether appointed or volunteer staff members. There shall be appropriate in-service programs to educate MCZ personnel in the recognition of signs of sexual abuse/misconduct against children, youth, or the disabled, to inform them of the procedures to be followed should an incident of sexual misconduct occur or be brought to their attention.

This policy has been formulated in line with the Ministry’s vision which is to equip God’s people (children and youth) for work of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4 v12-13).

We are committed to the raising and nurturing of faithful, responsible and innovative Christian children and youth based on faith in Jesus Christ and biblical teaching through evangelism, Christian education, giving, and fellowship training for development, stewardship and services.

This policy endeavours to impart and promote the ministry’s values of: Scriptural holiness, Obedience, Love, Service and Excellence.

SCOPE OF THE POLICY

This Policy applies to all youths, children and adults who are in the Youth and Children Ministry in the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. It is an instrument that is to be used as a point of reference in decision making. This policy stipulates the communication protocols within the Youths and Children Ministry. Each member of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe or any visitor attending the Church sponsored activities shall adhere to this policy. This policy shall give operational guidelines and a code of conduct of any member or stakeholder of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe. This policy is not limited only to the borders of Zimbabwe but to any other part of the world where there is a Methodist Church in Zimbabwe Youth activity.

CHILDREN RIGHTS

The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe and the Youth Department shall endeavour at all times to adhere and uphold the rights of children as stipulated in the various national and international instruments. However, in order to promote Christian values and the doctrine of the church, the exercise of such rights shall be subject to the provisions of the Bible and the Church’s policies.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHILDREN

It shall be noted that the same children who bear the rights referred to before have responsibilities to fulfil as expected by the church and society. All Children and youths shall adhere to and execute any responsibilities expected of them by the leadership of their societies at any given time.

STAFF AND YOUTH LEADER SCREENING

All ministers and Youth Leaders will complete the following procedures before being permitted to work with the youth:

1. Be a member in good standing of the Methodist Church for at least a year, except for the ordained ministers, who are eligible to begin working with the youth of the congregation upon ordination or appointment. 
2. Approved by the Leaders meeting. 
3. Complete any relevant forms that may be prescribed from time to time by the Youth and Children Ministry. 
4. Undergo reference check; a person will not need to undergo a reference check if he or she has been a member, in good standing, of the Methodist church for three years. 
5. Criminal background check. Information gathered in the screening process will be held in strict confidence and will be reviewed only by the Ministers of the Methodist Church. All information obtained will be kept locked at all times.

RULES THAT APPLY TO ALL YOUTH ACTIVITIES GENERAL POLICY

a) All activities require, at a minimum, two adults, one of whom must be a Youth Leader and the other a Youth Leader or a Youth Support Staff. Bible classes are permitted to have only one teacher, if the classroom door remains open or there is an unobstructed view into the classroom through a window.

b) No adult worker may be alone with a child, who is not his or her own child. There are two exceptions to this policy. First, ordained ministers or church Elders are permitted to be alone with a child for the purpose of counselling. The location of the counselling is restricted to the Church’s premises. Second, ministers or adult Youth Leaders may transport a child to or from an activity with the written consent of the child’s parent or guardian.

c) All over-night activities and all activities that may pose a risk for injury require a completed parental release form which will be held by the Youth Leader.

d) All classrooms will have an unobstructed window in the door or wall. If there is no window, the classroom door must be left open at all times. An adult appointed by the Elders will routinely monitor the hall and observe the activities in the classroom.

e) No Youth Advisor or Youth Support Staff is permitted to have a romantic relationship with a youth of the Methodist Church.

f) No youth worker is permitted to demean, strike or otherwise inflict physical pain on a youth of the Methodist Church. Youth workers are only permitted to use constructive discipline.

GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR THE MINISTRY
CONDUCTING OUTINGS, CAMPS AND REVIVALS
COMMUNICATION PROTOCOL

All forms of communication from the Youth and Children Ministry to the Church shall be put in writing and are to be done in time for planning and proper logistical purposes. If any societal youth organisation wishes to conduct any event the Youth and Education Committee, Society Youth Pastor and the Society Steward are to be notified. All communications to the Circuit Superintendent shall be done through and by the Circuit Youth Pastor. The secretary or chairperson of any youth organisation that wishes to conduct any event shall notify the advisors and requests their presence during the event.

All communications to the District Youth Councils shall be done through and by the Circuit Youth Councils or the District Committees for Youth organizations. All communications to the District Bishops shall be done through the District Youth Pastors. All communications to the Connexional Youth Councils shall be done through the District Youth Councils. When information is cascading down to the societies the same protocol shall be used but in a reverse format.

The spokesperson of the Youths and Children Ministry is the Presiding Bishop or any Former Presiding Bishop appointed by the Church to be the Spokesperson. Hence, no one at any given time shall comment on the press or on the radio or television on any subject of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe unless given permission by the Presiding Bishop.

Events outside the Circuit

If a society or circuit wishes to conduct an exchange programme with any other circuit within the same district, the Circuit Superintendent shall be notified through the same protocol stipulated above and the Circuit Superintendent shall inform the hosting Circuit Superintendent on these developments. Without such a blessing the preparations of such an event or programme shall not commence.

Events outside the District

If a society, circuit or district wishes to conduct an exchange programme with any other circuit or district outside the district, the District Bishop shall be notified through the same protocol stipulated above and the District Bishop shall inform the hosting District Bishop on these developments. Without such a blessing the preparations of such an event or programme shall not commence.

Events outside the Country

If a society or circuit wishes to conduct an exchange programme with a Methodist Church fellowship outside Zimbabwe or any other Christian fellowship outside Zimbabwe the Presiding Bishop shall be informed through the protocol stipulated above. Without such a blessing the preparations of such an event or programme shall not commence.

TRAVELLING

Indemnity Forms
Parent/Guardian Permission Forms and Medical Consent Forms must be completed prior to all trips. The forms shall be signed by the parent or legal guardian of any minor who wishes to go for a church trip. The parents or guardians shall supply the secretary of the organization all their contact details, physical addresses and their consent for their child to attend the trip. The parents or guardians shall be informed on the purpose of the trip, its duration, activities involved and the advisors as well as the ministers who will be accompanying their children. Under no circumstances may one adult alone take or accompany minors on an overnight outing. The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe shall not be responsible for any accidents that may occur during Youth trips and camps.

Database
The secretary or organisers of any trip shall keep a database of the people who are travelling and all those in his or her care and custody including all other necessary and relevant information in relation to such trips such as next of kin and contact details, vehicle details, accommodation details, etc. 

Time of travel
The organisers of any trip shall ensure that vehicles to be used by children and youths are roadworthy and under the control of responsible drivers. The church always encourages youths and children to travel during the day whenever possible. Youths who might choose to use their own modes of transport are also advised to travel during the day. The church shall not be held accountable for those who chose to travel in the late hours of the day.

HANDLING OF CHURCH FUNDS

The committees of any youth group are responsible to ensure that the funds of the group they are leading are well handled. All church funds are to be handled transparently and with a great sense of responsibility. All youth funds are entitled to be audited at any given time by the office of the Superintendent, Youth Pastor and District Bishop .The Standing Orders of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe provide for the appointment of the treasurers for all organisations in the Church. The treasurer is a voluntary post. The treasurer will take responsibility for the organization’s financial records. The general responsibilities of the treasurer can be said to be the following:

* To ensure that the finances of the organisation are properly handled.
* To ensure that funds are properly spent in accordance with the organisation’s objectives and that money given for a special purpose is being accounted separately.
* To ensure that receipts are issued for all money received.
* To ensure that the organisation’s bills are paid on time and the receipts are received for all payments.
* To come up with budgets and financial statements every quarter and present to Youth Councils or Youth Groups’ committees according to the level to which the treasurer is appointed.

Any youth organisation needs to organise details of its financial activities into an appropriate accounting system. Below is a basic list of items that you will need:
* Document vouchers File.
* Bank Statement File
* Payment Vouchers.
* Receipt books.
* Collection and Trust Funds Books.
* Receipt book register
* Petty Cash Vouchers

YOUTH WEEK AND YOUTH IN ACTION

The church shall respect the Youth Week and Youth in Action Week as a platform to encourage the participation of youths in the day to day business of the church. Each and every circuit shall hold these activities without fail. The Presiding Bishop, Mission Director, District Bishops, Connexional Youth Coordinator, Circuit Superintendents, Youth and Education Committees, Circuit Youth Councils, District Youth Councils and the Connexional Youth Council are accountable for these programmes.

All funds raised during the Youth Week (including the Church Offering except tithes) shall be remitted to the Connexional Youth Department through the District Youth Councils in the same month that the Youth Week has been conducted. Societies are to submit comprehensive reports indicating the amounts attained on each day of the Youth Week to the Circuit Youth Council which will compile a report to the District Youth Council. The Connexional Youth Council shall receive comprehensive reports from the District Youth Councils highlighting the amounts raised during the Youth Week.

USE OF CHILDREN’S PHOTOGRAPHS

In all photography and marketing materials, the Youth and Children Ministry shall portray children in a respectful, appropriate and consensual way, including;

• Obtaining informed consent from the child and parent or guardian of the child, and explaining how the photograph or film will be used.
• Assessing and endeavouring to comply with local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images.
• Photographing children with a guardian where possible.
• Presenting the subject in a dignified, respectful manner, portraying them as equal partners in the development process. Children shall be adequately clothed and not depicted as vulnerable or submissive or in poses that are sexually suggestive.
• Ensuring images are honest representations of the context and the facts.

COMPULSORY INDEMNITY FORM FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL CHILDREN
 (To be completed in duplicate)

DATES OF A CAMP / TOUR: ………………………………………………………………………….
DESTINATION OF A CAMP/TOUR: …………………………………………………………………………
I the undersigned………….…………………………………….………………being parents/guardian of:
 ..………………………………………………………………………..hereby give our/my consent to him/her participating in the above mentioned camp/ tour. 
I fully understand and accept that while every precaution and care will be taken by the organizer (Methodist Church in Zimbabwe), he/she will take part entirely at his/her own risk and I agree that I will not nor will any person through me or on my behalf make any claim against the organizer(s), or any member of the staff of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe or any other person in charge of the tour in the event of any accident or other occurrences happening during or as a result of the tour or any travel connected therein and through which he/she may suffer injury, loss or damage. 
I further agree to indemnify the organizer(s), all members of staff and any other person in charge of the tour against any claim arising from any such accident or other occurrences irrespective of by whom any such claim may be made. 
I authorize the organizer(s), or travelling members of staff of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe as the case may be to act in loco parentis and to do all that may be necessary for any medical or other assistance that may be required during the camp/tour.

SIGNED: …………………………………………………………………………………

DATE: ………………………………………………………………………

For additions, comments and subtractions please contact
Rev N Zhira at nkulumo.zhira@gmail.com
Robert K Chigangaidze at rkchigs@gmail.com
Tafadzwa Mazonde at tmazonde@zpc.co.zw