Congregational Statement - Lockport Allegation
Hello Chapel family!
We want to take an opportunity to provide clarity on a situation at our Lockport Campus last year given a related article that was published in the Buffalo News. Up until this point, we have only shared this information publicly with the Lockport Campus, but as news about this situation becomes more public, we want to help you, as a part of our church family, understand how we have pursued honoring God and honoring people throughout this process.
As a church, it is important for you to know that we have and continue to go to great lengths to ensure the safety of children and protect volunteers through robust policies and procedures, background checks, video monitoring & ongoing training. In addition, we have recently partnered with MinistrySafe to further enhance our already thorough policies, procedures and safety measures. Our mission as a church is to give every man, woman and child repeated opportunities to hear, see and respond to the gospel of Christ. As a part of that mission, we are committed to maintaining a safe and secure space for children to learn and grow in their faith. We take any allegation like this very seriously and, as we did in this case, will always act swiftly and diligently if something concerning is brought to our attention by a parent or by law enforcement. We are committed to providing a secure environment for all that come to The Chapel. If you have any questions about any of our policies, procedures, or security measures for children or volunteers, our King’s World team welcomes them.
Regarding the allegation made, in May 2018 we received a call from The Lockport Police Department informing us that a complaint had been filed related to a claim of inappropriate behavior between an unidentified female volunteer and a child in a preschool-aged King’s World classroom at our Lockport Campus. Prior to being contacted by the local police, no complaint had been made to our team. As you can imagine, we take any allegation or claim along these lines very seriously and took immediate action.
Our posture from the outset was:
- Support the family through prayer and open communication;
- Cooperate fully and proactively with law enforcement while taking our lead from them;
- Exercise vigilance while the investigation is carried out; and
- Prepare to act decisively if any actionable information emerges.
As you would rightly assume, we have zero tolerance for this type of alleged behavior.
With our team’s full cooperation, an investigation into this complaint was conducted by a detective in the Lockport Police Department. In addition, we proactively shared all information with law enforcement that we felt would be helpful to the investigation. Throughout the investigation, our leadership team stayed in contact with the parent of the child through multiple emails, texts and in-person meetings and were available to answer questions and support her in any way. As well, during the investigation, if any volunteer was formally being questioned or under investigation, they were removed from their area of service until being cleared by law enforcement. If, at any point in the investigation, actionable information was provided, we would have notified King's World families immediately. Since neither our team nor law enforcement uncovered any actionable information during the course of the investigation, there was nothing to communicate to families throughout.
At the end of November 2018, the detective had determined and communicated that the investigation had formally been closed - with no actionable findings, arrests or suspects identified. At this point, we sent a letter to active Lockport King's World families and volunteers notifying them of the closed investigation. In addition, in January 2019, given a number of questions that surfaced through anonymous social media posts, our leadership team hosted a meeting at the Lockport campus to update the congregation directly, correct any misinformation and answer any questions they may have. We not only called all King’s World parents and volunteers, we also publicly announced the meeting in our Sunday worship gatherings so that anyone from our Lockport church family were invited and welcome to attend. To date, there has been no new information that has surfaced and no additional parent has expressed similar concerns.
As was referenced in the article, we have no reason to doubt that something may have happened to this child (as the mother alleges), but, after the completion of the investigation with no actionable findings, we also have no reason to conclude that it happened in King's World.
Though the Buffalo News article was, at times, even-handed it was also incomplete in many respects. We truly believe we have made every effort to honor God and honor people in how we have responded at each step along the way. This situation has certainly been a challenging one on a number of fronts, not the least of which has been the potential for misinformation (which is unhelpful to everyone involved). For those who are a part of The Chapel family, we encourage you to use this communication as our formal response. But, should you have any further questions, we are committed to answering them as we do not want further misinformation or gossip to occur. The mission we are on together is too valuable.
Although the police have closed this investigation, we recognize that those involved have been emotionally and spiritually pressed and we continue to remain sensitive to that in our approach. As such, we will continue to keep the name of the parent and child confidential. We intend to continue to respond in a way that honors God and honors people, and we ask you to join us in praying for all involved.
If you do have specific questions and would like to discuss them further with a member of our team, please send a message and we will ensure it gets to the right person and is responded to as appropriate.