background check policy

To Metro D.C. Synod Congregations

Metro D.C. Synod’s Background Check Policy as of July 5, 2016

We have reviewed the Synod Background Check Policy and concluded that we will no longer be able to provide background checks for congregations outside of Metro D.C. Synod sponsored youth events.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. every congregation has its own liability insurance policies, and those insurers often have different requirements or expectations about the scope and frequency of background checks; and
  2. in each congregation’s review of the results of background checks on those for whom it is responsible, the congregation’s pastor, personnel committee, or council president needs to review the results and make a decision about that individual’s participation in particular events. The Synod lacks the “local knowledge” required to make such contextual determinations.

We realize that many of you depend on the Synod for background checks for employment, VBS, and pastoral vacancies. We suggest that you ask your insurance company for a recommendation. In addition to knowing that the recommended company is trusted by the insurer, that company is also likely to know what types of background checks the insurance carrier requires.

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The ELCA recommends that church institutions retain all background checks for 50 years after the employee or volunteer ceased to serve that institution (see Congregation Records Retention Schedule). Each congregation must find a proper way to store their completed background checks in a way that ensures the data for each check is kept private and secure.

To reiterate: The Synod will continue to perform, review and maintain background checks when they directly connect to Synod events – including participation in certain synodical committees – or Calls to Ministry made by Synod Council. Thank you for your understanding and assistance in our clarification and change to this policy.