The Charis Board of Directors has approved the following new policies, effective immediately.
ACT OF REMEMBRANCE
Because of denominational diversity within our community, Charis conducts the breaking of bread in a way that is affirming to all believers and seekers. Charis agrees on the need for a service which reflects the inclusive nature of Jesus’ invitation to His followers and which joins the members of the community in a shared meal. Therefore, the Act of Remembrance is to remind us of this invitation. It is necessary for team and weekenders to concentrate on the spirit of unity that the shared meal in Christ offers to all those participating. All team members are required to share in the Act of Remembrance. Because the Act of Remembrance is non-sacramental in nature, it may be conducted by a Spiritual Director or a lay person.
Approved by Charis Board of Directors November 15, 2012
COVENANT OF CHRISTIAN CONDUCT
Using the Holy Scriptures as our guide, we, as prospective team members, will embrace and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and use them as a model in all that we do and say in our daily lives and on a Charis weekend. For example, Charis of Minnesota believes that a sexual relationship belongs within the boundaries of a publicly committed marriage between one man and one woman.
Approved by Charis Board of Directors October 30, 2010
Charis is a group ministry, not a one-on-one ministry. Working spiritually with offenders is our primary focus and is always conducted within a group setting on Charis weekends and at Ultreyas.
Charis volunteers who wish to pursue a one-on-one mentoring relationship with an offender after release may not do so in the name of Charis.
If a Charis volunteer should decide to mentor someone who has been released from prison, they should check with that prison to insure compliance with the institution inmate contact policies.
Approved: October 2007
Amended and Approved by Charis Board of Directors March 19, 2009
OFFENDER CONTACT POLICY
It is Charis policy to strictly adhere to Federal and State policies regarding contact with offenders prior to and after release.
The following is a Summary of Current DOC and BOP Policies and intended for clarification purposes only:
Prior to Release: Contact between volunteers and offenders are only appropriate at the prison within approved areas. There is to be NO written or telephone communication between a volunteer and an offender, or an offender’s family. If contact is received, it must be reported to the Chaplain at the institution. A volunteer may not be on an offender’s visiting list. A volunteer may not give or receive anything from an offender or their family – including phone numbers. Any attempt on the part of a volunteer to visit, write, communicate, send gifts or money to an offender, offenders' friend, or offenders' family will result in suspension or termination as a volunteer. Insiders requesting any outside information, aftercare assistance or referrals, etc should be referred to the Chaplains.
After Release: No contact is allowed for 1 year after an inmate is released and officially off paper. Should contact occur it should be reported immediately to the Charis Board Liaison assigned to the respective institution to determine if this has been a violation. Incidental or accidental contact (seeing someone or running into someone accidentally) should be reported, however, it may not be a violation. Intentional contact via mail, phone, e-mail, and through third parties should be reported immediately and most likely would be a serious violation. Consequences (depending on the specific situation) for Charis volunteers may include loss of volunteer privileges with Charis and volunteer privileges within the prison system. Charis Board Liaisons, Lay leaders, and Board members are required to bring any reports of possible contact violations to the attention of the Chaplain of the Institution for review and possible action
Prior to Release: There is to be NO written or telephone communication between a volunteer and an offender, or an offender’s family. If contact is received, it must be reported to the Chaplain at the institution. A volunteer may not be on an offender’s visiting list. A volunteer may not give or receive anything from an offender or their family – including phone numbers. Any attempt on the part of a volunteer to visit, write, communicate, send gifts or money to an offender, offenders' friend, or offenders' family may result in suspension or termination as a volunteer by the prison. Insiders requesting any outside information, aftercare assistance or referrals, etc should be referred to the Chaplains.
After Release: The Charis Board of Directors recognizes the need for newly released offenders to stay connected with the Christian community. The Board further recognizes that the DOC is more lenient than the BOP regarding post release contact.
After release contact is allowed by the State DOC, but it must be professional in nature and not personal. If contact occurs, a volunteer must immediately notify the Chaplain and update the information on the DOC Offender Disclosure Form.
Approved October 2007
Amended and Approved by Charis Board of Directors March 19, 2009
TEAM SELECTION POLICY
The Lay Director of the weekend should make every effort to FIRST utilize the people who have submitted an application. The next priority in filling a team should be to seek new members. Only after these two actions, should the Lay Director call on previous team members who have not filled out an application. The Charis Board encourages volunteers to work only one weekend per year, so that all have an equal opportunity to serve.
It is important to have a good mix of people from different churches and different denominations on each of the teams. This is important so that cliques aren't formed, and to insure that denominational practices do not become part of the weekend.
All team members must have submitted an application form prior to the start of the weekend.
During the selection process a mixture of 70% experienced and 30% new team members is desired.
Team Commitment: All team members must be made aware that they are required to attend all team meetings as well as monthly Ultreyas for the year following the weekend. If team members know that they cannot make this commitment they should not serve.
Team Training: The Day 2 training and Institution training are mandatory training. It is important that all know the rules and are reminded of them, even those who have served many weekends. If a team member misses this training, the Lay Director must insure that person receives the necessary information.
Team members must have attended a 3-day Cursillo-type weekend before serving on a team. This requirement must be fulfilled before team meetings begin.
All first-time Charis volunteers should be assigned an experienced team member for guidance.
Amended and Approved by the Charis Board of Directors March 19, 2009
COED TEAM POLICY
Charis of MN policy with regard to the use of coed teams (participation by men and women together on Charis teams) is institution specific. Many key factors determine the specifics of the coed nature of teams and it is the general policy of Charis to allow both men and women participation as well as leadership roles when prudent and possible. Some factors for considering team coed specifics may include the following:
- Input or policy requirements from the institution chaplains
- History and success of our serving at the institution
- Input from the liaison at the institution.
- Issues that may arise making adjustments necessary.
Any final determination shall be reviewed and approved by the Charis Board with regard to entering institutions for the first time and with regard to any changes in prior practices at the institution.
Non-cash gifts may be accepted by Charis of Minnesota, Inc. ("Charis"). However, gifts thought to have value exceeding $250.00 may be received only after acceptance is approved by resolution of the Board of Directors of Charis.
Non-cash gifts, including gifts of stock, land, books, arts, etc., will be acknowledged by letter from Charis at the time of acceptance, indicating the date accepted and a brief description (a legal description where appropriate) of the gift. Charis does not assume responsibility for substantiating value or deductibility for tax purposes of such gifts. The giver should obtain such information from tax counsel if tax deductibility is sought.
Approved by Charis Board of Directors October 18, 2012