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Special Guidelines

The Ordination Paper Trail in the American Baptist Churches of the South (ABCOTS)

  1. When an ABCOTS congregation is ready to ordain a member and it wants that ordination to be recognized by the American Baptist Churches, the pastor (or the pastor’s designee) should be in touch with the appropriate ordination coordinator. This may be the president of the area or regional Ministers Council or a person selected by the cluster, area or regional Ministers Council to coordinate ordination procedures. The ordination coordinator will provide a set of materials, i.e., the candidate packet, which spells out the documentation to be submitted.
  2. When the pastor has approved the requested documents in the completed candidate packet, two copies of the packet should be prepared – one should be sent to the Regional Office in Baltimore and the original should be sent to the ordination coordinator. It is important to send a copy to the Regional office, in case the original is mislaid or lost. This copy is kept in the Regional office until it is replaced by the recognition packet. The ordination coordinator works with the local church to insure that the submitted documents meet the standards set, and based upon this conclusion, presents the candidate packet to the ordination council.
  3. When the candidate has been approved by the ordination council, the ordination coordinator:
    1. insures that proper signatures are affixed to the ordination certificate, and makes two copies.
    2. gives the original ordination certificate to the pastor and sends a copy to the Regional office.
    3. adds the second copy to the ordination packet, which then becomes the recognition packet,
    4. makes and delivers a copy of the recognition packet to the Regional Ministers’ Council President
    5. at least one month before the next Ministers’ Council Regional Conference. This will enable the Region President to schedule recognition of that ordination at the Regional Conference.
  4. The ordination coordinator presents the original recognition packet to the Regional Ministers Council Executive Committee for review.
  5. The Regional Ministers Council Executive Committee votes to approve or reject presentation of the ordination to the Council for recognition. Acceptance is accompanied by stipulating Professional Leadership Status (7, 6 or 3). Rejection should be accompanied by explanation.
  6. All recognition packets that have been approved by the Regional Ministers Council Executive Committee, along with the ordinand, are presented to the Regional Conference for recognition. At that time the newly recognized ordinand is expected to:
    1. Sign the Ministers Council Code of Ethics, if the ordinand has not done so earlier
    2. Pay their membership dues in the Ministers Council
    3. Complete the ABC Professional Leadership Change Form for the Professional Registry. The Code of Ethics form and the Professional Leadership Change Form are then added to the recognition packet and placed in the custody of the Region President (or designee)
  7. The completed recognition packet is forwarded to the Regional Office by registered mail.
  8. The Regional Office keeps the recognition packet in its files and enters the appropriate information about the person in the Professional Registry.

May 2008 (Revised)

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Harassment Free Workplace Policy

It is the policy of ABCOTS to maintain a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. ABCOTS will not tolerate harassment of any employee by a co-worker, supervisor, manager, vendor, independent contractor, or visitor on any basis, including, but not limited to an employee’s: race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, medical condition, age, marital status, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal or state law or local ordinance. All of us must work together to maintain our workplace as an environment that is free from harassment. Accordingly, employees must not engage in any behavior that could be considered harassment and must also report any behavior they believe to be harassment as set forth in the “How do I Report Harassment” section below.

What is Harassment?

Harassment is any behavior that is not welcomed by, and is offensive to, an employee. Harassment interferes with an employee’s work effectiveness and his or her enjoyment of the workplace. Essentially, it results in an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment for the harassed employee. Harassment may take many forms, but the most common forms include:

  • Verbal harassment – such as jokes, epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, and unwelcome remarks about an individual’s body, color, physical characteristics, or appearance, questions about a person’s sexual practices, or gossiping about sexual relations
  • Physical harassment – such as physical interference with normal work, impeding or blocking movement, assault, unwelcome physical contact, leering at a person’s body, and threatening, intimidating or hostile acts that relate to a protected characteristic
  • Visual harassment – such as offensive or obscene photographs, calendars, posters, cards, cartoons, e-mails, drawings and gestures, display of sexually suggestive or lewd objects, unwelcome notes or letters, and any other written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual, because of a protected characteristic, that is placed on walls, bulletin boards, or elsewhere on the employer’s premises or circulated in the workplace.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests, or demands for sexual acts or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. submission to this conduct is made – either explicitly or implicitly – a term or condition of an individual’s employment
  2. submission to or rejection of this conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the employment, or
  3. the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or of creating, or resulting in, an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment for the harassed employee.

Whether conduct is considered sexual harassment is determined not only by whether the harassed employee considers it as such, but also whether a reasonable person would consider it as such. Sexual harassment also includes “same-sex” harassment (i.e. harassment of a male by a male or of a female by a female).

Examples of Sexual Harassment

To assist employees in identifying what type of conduct may be considered sexual harassment the following list of examples is provided:

  • unwanted sexual flirtations, advances or propositions
  • offering employee benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  • making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances
  • making or using graphic or degrading verbal comments about an individual or his or her appearance
  • sexual innuendo, suggestive comments, or sexually-oriented “kidding” or “teasing”
  • foul or obscene language
  • the display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, or
  • any offensive or abusive physical conduct

This list is not all inclusive, other types of conduct or behavior may constitute sexual harassment. If in doubt, report the suspected harassment.

All such conduct, whether committed by a supervisor, co-worker, vendor, independent contractor, or visitor, whether male or female, is specifically prohibited.

How do I Report Harassment?

Employees or supervisors who have experienced or witnessed any form of harassment at ABCOTS must immediately provide a written or verbal complaint to the Executive Minister, unless this individual is involved in the harassment. In that case, report the harassment to the chair of the Personnel Committee. The complaint should include details of the incident(s), names of individuals involved, and the names of any witnesses. The important thing is that the individual bring the matter to ABCOTS’ attention promptly so that any concern of harassment can be investigated and addressed promptly. From this initial report, an investigation will take place. It is critical, however, that employees be able to freely choose whether they will report the harassment to the Executive Minister or to the Personnel chairperson.

All reported complaints regarding incidents of harassment will be investigated. Complaints will be kept as confidential as possible. The Executive Minister or Personnel Committee chairperson will promptly undertake a reasonable and objective investigation of the harassment allegations. The investigation will be completed and a determination regarding the harassment alleged will be made and communicated to the employee(s) who complained and to the accused harasser(s).

All employees and supervisors have a duty to cooperate in the investigation of alleged harassment. Failing to cooperate or deliberately providing false information during an investigation shall be grounds for disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

If ABCOTS determines that harassment has occurred, it will take effective remedial action commensurate with the circumstances. Appropriate action will also be taken to deter any future harassment. If a complaint of harassment is substantiated, appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including discharge, will be taken. Whatever action is taken against the harasser will be communicated to the employee(s) who complained.

Protection Against Retaliation

ABCOTS policy and Maryland state law prohibit retaliation against any employee by another employee or by the company for using this complaint procedure or for filing, testifying, assisting or participating in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing conducted by any federal or state enforcement agency.

Any report of retaliation by the one accused of harassment or any other person will also be promptly and reasonably investigated. If a complaint of retaliation is substantiated, appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including discharge, will be taken, consistent with the employee's at-will status.

Additional Enforcement Information

In addition to ABCOTS’ internal complaint procedure, employees should also be aware that the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the [Maryland department or agency, if applicable] investigate and prosecute complaints of harassment in employment. Employees have the right to report allegations of illegal discrimination to the appropriate agency, and retaliation for exercising this right is prohibited by ABCOTS.

For more information, contact the Director of Human Resources or the nearest office of the EEOC or [applicable state agency], as listed below.




Managers and supervisors are responsible for maintaining a working environment in which employees are free from intimidation or harassment.

Employees are responsible for compliance with ABCOTS’ Harassment Free Workplace Policy and for reporting violations or suspected violations of this policy or of instances of harassment as described above.

Violation of this policy will result in discipline, up to and including discharge from employment.

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