Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The LGBTQIS Pride Activities, and Social Events Center of Elmira NY
The only Church in Central New York founded and fostered by the GLBTQIS community for 38 years. October 31, 2020 - 37th Anniversary in our 38th year in Ministry.
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Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Christian Community devoted to Christ among us and the entire People Of God. We therefore respect the dignity of every individual and we reverence the presence of the Holy Spirit within each person. Being a private organization that meets in public settings, we initially choose to welcome all persons to share with us in our ministry and worship. Our doors are open to the public, and this requires of us certain responsibilities with regard to persons in our presence who are under 17 years of age. Currently, 1997, the State of New York designates the age of 17 years as the "age of consent," and considers all other persons under 17 (designated as "minors") to be incapable of giving consent to sexual activity with those 17 years or older in any circumstances. SECTION 130.05 #3 of New York State Law Article 130 - Sex Offenses: "A person is deemed incapable of consent when he is: (a) less than seventeen years old; or (b) mentally defective; or (c) mentally incapacitated; or (d) physically helpless."

The State of New York also places a responsibility on all adults (including those person 17 and older) in New York State, as well as all agencies, churches, businesses, and even all families to insure a safe public life for "minors" by maintaining a society that is free of sexual harassment of "minors" by persons 17 years of age and older.

True enough, Ray Of Hope is a Christian Church, with Christ as our head, and we therefore do not look to the state for our final authority in any matter. However, Scriptures call us to cooperate with the state when it is holy and good and right to do so:

Rom 13:1-7 Rom 13:1-7 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them--taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Pet 2:12-16 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge. For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.

Let us remember that we as voters representing the Christian vote, have helped to elect the government of New York State, and that we expect the State of New York to cooperate with us in matters of our Incorporation as a Church. Therefore, Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ chooses to cooperate with the People of the State Of New York with regard to the protection of minors, and, we do so in the Name of Christ, as ambassadors of Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20), in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, for the witness of Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus.

Therefore we have a responsibility to do everything within our ability to provide a safe environment for those persons under the age of 17 whenever they are participating in any activity or event sponsored by Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Inc. We could do this simply by restricting our ministry and activity to those persons who are 17 years of age and older, as do many other organizations and businesses. However, our imitation of Christ Jesus calls us to welcome children and adolescents (those under 17 years of age) in His Name and thus following His example. In fact, three Gospels leave us specific instructions from Christ in this regard.

Matthew 19:13-15 Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." And He laid his hands on them and went on His way. (cf. Mark 10:13-14; Luke 18:15-17)

Further, our Lord Jesus made a stern warning to anyone who might entertain the idea of harming children, or misguiding children. He said:

Mat 18:6 "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Additionally, the Christian Testament calls upon the Pastors and leaders of the congregation of believers to "tend" "guard" "oversee" and "protect" the flock, and certainly that implies the children as well as adults, entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit, as Christ Jesus himself would do so.

I Pet 5:2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it --not for sordid gain but eagerly.

Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.

This word "tend" is a Greek word (Strongs #4165. poimaino), and means to tend as a shepherd (or fig. supervisor):--feed (cattle), rule. Shepherds also guard their flocks from the "wolf."

Jesus clearly taught the image of the "shepherd" as one who guards the flock from the "wolf," even to the point of having to sacrifice his/her own life for the flock entrusted to him/her for care.

John 10:11-15 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away--and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

Therefore, following the example of Christ by welcoming, guarding, and protecting persons under the age of 17 (classified as "children" and "adolescents" in New York State) in our midst we commit to the following policies:
1. Provide a safe environment for minors who attend any function or event sponsored by Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or when being transported by an adult attendee or member of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ to, from, or between the locations of a Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ function or event, or when in the presence or care of any adult at a Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ function, event, or office and/or meeting space of the church.

2. Uphold all laws regarding the safety of minors, the abuse of minors, and endangering the welfare of minors.

3. Require signed statements of disclosure of all criminal history or disciplinary actions taken by any agency, organization or place of employment in a person's past regarding any aspect (implied or actual) of sexual misconduct for all employees, Vocational Ministry Candidates, Ordained and Licensed Clergy, persons in appointed leadership roles as defined in the Bylaws of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and/or of any other person the Council or Pastors may believe necessary from time to time. When a charge or conviction appears on said statements, a further investigation shall be conducted at the expense of the individual whose history it is. The investigation will involve providing the Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Council with a complete set of official papers regarding the charges, convictions, treatment, or any other information requested by the Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Council. Various levels of disclosure may be determined as necessary after the Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Council, or any appointed agency or individual, evaluates the estimated risk to others that such information may suggest. Compliance to conditions of disclosure or risk management may be required of the person in question. Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Inc. reserves the right to remove any person from any position or level of activity in Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ as it deems necessary for the protection of children and youth at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Report all suspicions, confessions, and confirmed knowledge of child endangerment and abuse to New York State authorities.

5. Take seriously all complaints and reports of sexual misconduct, threat of sexual misconduct, or attempted sexual misconduct that is reported by a minor or by an adult on behalf of the minor. The accused shall be prevented from attending any Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ event or function until the charges are sufficiently resolved by the appropriate authorities. If the accused is in leadership at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ at the time of the accusation, he/she will be automatically be suspended without penalties, restricted from coming to anything related to Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and forbidden to have contact with the alleged victim. If the alleged offender is not found guilty upon further investigation, he/she may be restored to his/her position at the discretion of the Council of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

6. Adult members and attendees of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ shall not accompany minors to church and church sponsored events unless they are a relative or legally appointed guardian of the minor, as permitted by the provisions in paragraph "7." Anyone who does bring a minor to church shall give written report of the name, address, birth date, and relationship of the minor to the church clerk before or at the time of the event. Should one of the adults accompanying the minor be the church clerk, documentation shall be presented to and stored by the church moderator.

7. When there is no relative of the minor attending Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a ride to, from or between Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ functions may be provided if all of the following requirements are met: a) advance written approval of at least one adult parent, or legal guardian of the minor is given to the clerk of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ and stored in permanent file before the transportation is provided, or in emergency circumstances, written approval provided when the adult arrives at the Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ function with the minor in their presence, b) there must be two adults who are not married, dating, or in a relationship in the car at all times the minor is in the car. Two minors in the vehicle does not meet this requirement, specifically there must be two adults present at all times while a minor who is not a relative of the adult is in transport.

8. No transportation is to be provided to any person who may be under 21 without legal proof of age that they are 17 years and older.

9. No adult is to arrange to meet and socialize specifically with a minor at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ functions or events.

10. There must be two adults present at all times where a minor is otherwise alone with an adult (clergy or non-clergy adult) at any Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ function, event, or in any meeting space or office. No adult shall invite a minor to leave the building or space where an event is taking place, or invite a minor to move aside from the congregation to socialize, and/or walk, visit, etc. alone. If such a time for talking is necessary, a second adult will have to go along. If confidentiality is an issue, the second adult should be an ordained and licensed clergy person, as they are required to keep all things confidential except knowledge or suspicion of child abuse or endangerment, and some cases where a person is a mortal threat to themselves or others.

11. All offices, and meeting rooms where Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ is meeting must have windows added to the doors or walls that are not to be covered at anytime with curtains or any other article. These additional windows are to be adequate to insure that at any time any person can see through the window and see all persons in the office or room. Where no additional window is feasible, it shall be considered intolerable that the door to that room ever be closed or locked while Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ is using the building. The only exception to this is a rest room. Persons using a rest room that has no window, and requires the door to be locked should understand they might be asked to vacate the room for inspection at any time.

12. It is acknowledged that some adolescents believe they are able to make their own decision regarding consent for sexual activity. However, the State of New York does not regard this opinion, or any argument that the child/adolescent "looks like an adult," "can make their own decisions," "acts older than they really are," etc. Some persons who have not attained the age of 17 years may even knowingly misrepresent their legal age to receive the emotional attention of an adult. This has already happened at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ on three occasions during the year 1996. Therefore, all persons attending Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ should be prepared to present legal proof of age to be placed in the permanent file. All persons under 18 years of age who plan to attend regularly (taking responsibility for their own transportation) are required to submit a photocopy of an identification paper that includes their birth date, such as a library card, a school I.D. card, a copy of one's birth certificate, etc. This will be placed in the permanent file, which is accessed only by the clergy and council of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This way, should another adult ask us if someone is at least 17 years old, we can provide an accurate "yes" or "no" answer.

13. Once an adult has attended three events organized by Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ within a period of three months or has inquired about membership in the church, a copy of the current Policy Concerning Minors at Events shall be delivered to that person and a record of such delivery shall be placed in the permanent record of the church. This Policy Concerning Minors at Events shall also be included in a packet used to encourage adults to become members of the church and shall be distributed during membership classes. The Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ Council shall designate the person responsible for delivering this information from time to time.

14. All persons attending Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ are required to adhere to the Policy Concerning Minors at Events. Therefore, compliance with this policy shall be mandatory and failure to follow the requirements explained herein shall be a violation of the Policy of Courteous Behavior and subject to disciplinary action pursuant to it.

15. All persons attending Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ are reminded herein that Scripture requires obedience to leadership in matters such as this. The members, friends, and attendees of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ enjoy a completely elected clergy and leadership, and so it is obvious that those elected and appointed by us would be attuned to our desires. Further, since we pray for and with our leadership, and we require of them and ourselves to listen to the Holy Spirit, we can be confident that our obedience to a policy such as this is the Will Of God for us individually and as a congregation. Therefore, we implore everyone to adhere to this policy out of love for Christ, our Christian Community, and each other. An offense against this policy obviously is an offense to Christ, our Christian Community, each other, and a person or persons wrongly victimized. For Scripture admonishes us:

Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing--for that would be harmful to you.

Let us continue in our efforts to bring young people, infants through adults, to Christ, to the Gospel of Freedom, and to Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We have much to share with young people and it is to this aim that we have developed this policy to assure their protection and freedom while they grow up among us. May God bless all the children and young people whom God will bring our way. Amen.

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