The Summit Lighthouse|
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The Resolution Process
Resolving alleged violations of conduct are tests of our organization’s ability to embody and practice the teachings of the Ascended Masters as well as the principle of fairness, balance, judiciousness and adherence to truth. The process our organization adheres to is intended to insure fairness and to foster dignity, self-discipline and personal growth. This paper serves to clarify how we as an organization, as well as individual members, may work together to resolve allegations of conduct violations in the most appropriate and balanced manner.
Ultimately, our goal is to have as many issues as possible resolved at the local level. However, we still need to develop the blueprint for what issues should come to our international offices for resolution and what issues can be resolved locally. For the later, we also need to develop and provide training for members to handle those issues. In the meantime, we hope this summary of our resolution process and the general procedure for resolution at any level will be useful to you.
Local Resolution Process
We recommend two steps, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ (Mathew 18:15-17), which our Messenger also advocated. Individuals may take these steps privately when they observe behavior by a keeper of the flame, communicant or leader that appears to be not in keeping with the standards of their office.
1) Personal Dialogue between Two Members: If a person becomes aware of seemingly inappropriate behavior and feels competent to approach the alleged offender, it should be done with love and the intent to learn and help. This action is based on Jesus’ counsel to take up the matter just between the two of you (Matthew 18:15). When members can talk honestly about perceived infractions, this opens the door to true fellowship. Often there can be misperceptions, and if no communication follows, there is no opportunity for the other party to respond, clarify or even address an allegation of inappropriate behavior. Anyone making an allegation is expected to communicate his perceptions in an objective and helpful manner without blaming or shaming. Statements should be made from the heart, with active listening, and the alleged offender should be treated with respect and loving-kindness.
2) Involvement of One or Two Others: Jesus teaches us that when a situation cannot be resolved privately, the next step is to take one or two others along (Matthew 18:16). Others could include local Church members, board members or a minister. The purpose of introducing other participants is not to substantiate viewpoints or to persuade others; rather it is to gain understanding and bring more objectivity and spiritual insights. These other participants are encouraged to listen patiently and impartially to both parties and to follow the principles listed in step one. Step two may involve more than one meeting. If the matter cannot be resolved by following steps one and two, then follow Jesus’ counsel to “tell it unto the church” (Matthew 18:17).
Resolution Process at Headquarters
Alleged infractions that are not resolved locally may be referred to the appropriate department at headquarters for resolution, depending on the person’s area of affiliation (see chart below).
In the absence of the Messenger, alleged infractions of communicants are referred to the Board of Directors (the spiritual governing body of the organization), who has given the Ministerial Council the charge of dealing with communicants. Alleged infractions by Keepers of the Flame are referred to the Board of Directors. Alleged infractions of local teaching center or study group trustees are referred to the Ministry and Keepers of the Flame Fraternity managers for resolution, while alleged infractions by a minister are referred to the Ministerial Council.
The resolution process that is applied by the Board of Directors, Ministerial Council, Ministry and Keepers of the Flame Fraternity managers adheres to these steps:
1. Receipt of Allegation: Allegations regarding an individual’s conduct are received and reviewed. To reinforce accountability, only signed allegations are accepted for review.
2. Notice of an Alleged Infraction: The individual in question is informed of the alleged infraction and of their opportunity to be heard.
3. Counseling for the Parties Involved: A minister from headquarters or a regional or local minister may provide counseling to the parties involved.
4. Fact-Finding: The Board of Directors, Ministry and Keepers of the Flame Fraternity managers or the Ministerial Council review allegations and gather and evaluate necessary clarifying information related to all sides of the issue.
a. They may get input from the minister, local teaching center or study group leadership as well as from Keepers of the Flame and/or communicants involved in the situation.
b. The individual in question is invited to meet in person or by phone to present their perspective. The individual may choose to have present an advocate who is a member of the organization in good standing. The individual may also choose to respond to allegations in writing.
5. A Prompt and Impartial Review and Decision: The Board of Directors, Ministry and Keepers of the Flame managers or the Ministerial Council arrive at decisions unanimously. Their process includes careful study and evaluation of all the information and the applicable vows to each area of affiliation as well as a review of any appropriate spiritual teachings of the Ascended Masters or the Messengers, and prayer.
6. Positive Intervention, Discipline and/or Sanctions: Alleged infractions may be resolved by dismissal of the allegations, positive intervention, discipline and/or sanctions. Positive intervention or discipline may include counseling, private reprimand, and restitution or amends for damages done. If resolution is reached, both parties will sign a document stating what the outcome is, by what date any relevant action will be accomplished, and that they both agree with the decision. Sanctions for more serious and repeated infractions may include public disclosure, if needed, and suspension or dismissal from membership in the Church or the Keepers of the Flame Fraternity. These decisions are arrived at after careful and prayerful consideration.
7. Confidentiality: The process is administered with every attempt for confidentiality to the parties involved, unless the result is public disclosure or the organization is compelled to respond to the public allegations made by an individual who has been disciplined.
Standard of Conduct Violations That Could be Reviewed through This Process
· Serious violation of standards of conduct for Elders, Church board members, ministers, teaching center and study group leaders and board members, communicants of the Church and Keepers of the Flame. Such standards are defined in signed covenants when these individuals take office or become a communicant or keeper of the flame.
· Disruption of the fellowship—an offense in conduct and practice that seriously disturbs the peace, purity and/or unity of the Church.
· Practicing homosexuality, lesbianism or bisexuality.
· Association with discarnate spirits—psychic channeling, automatic writing, taking dictations, spiritualism, et al. (Spiritualism is defined as “the belief that the dead survive as spirits which can communicate with the living, especially with the help of a third party.”)
· Practicing the black arts—Satanism, witchcraft or black magic.
· Violations of criminal laws are handled by the judicial system and addressed by the above process only after having gone through applicable legal proceedings. These violations may be actions such as those that threaten the well-being of the family, including but not limited to polygamy, incest, child pornography, child sexual abuse and substance abuse, including the use of illegal drugs.
Matters Not Covered by the Resolution Process
· Personal disputes and conflicts between or among members
· Financial or business disputes between or among members
· Personal life choices by members other than those included in behavioral standards and signed covenants
While our organization and members engage in the resolution process, each hold in their heart and mind the thoughtform “I AM my brother’s keeper.” The resolution process is aimed at edifying the soul, establishing loving boundaries and helping individuals come into oneness with their Holy Christ Self. In administering this process, we strive to embody the highest principles of fairness and balance. Through cooperation and training of local community members and centers, it is our goal in the future to resolve nearly all allegations of misconduct locally, where individuals can assume more responsibility and ownership over the process and the results. When necessary and when infractions are serious and/or repeated, headquarters will receive notices of alleged behavioral misconduct and will apply and continue to apply the resolution process as outlined in this paper.