June 12, 2020
In recent weeks, victims of abuse by former director of Word Made Flesh, Chris Heuertz, have come forward and named some of the harms that they suffered.
Word Made Flesh’s then Board of Directors and Chris and Phileena Heuertz severed their working partnership just under a decade ago in 2012.
Word Made Flesh recognizes and condemns the abuse and patterns of abuse that did occur. These harmful acts consisted of manipulation, bullying, psychological, and spiritual abuse of power. We apologize for the fact that these events took place in the setting of Word Made Flesh and under past leadership. We apologize for Word Made Flesh’s past failure to protect staff. We grieve with the victims, acknowledge the pain that they have carried and still bear, and support their courageous action to publicly state the wrongdoings.
We at Word Made Flesh also support and join the victims in their hope to bring accountability and transparency and to prevent future abuse. We believe that restoration and healing should always be the goal in cases involving injured parties and that there are no exceptions to the recognition of another’s value and humanity. To demean or manipulate another is contrary to our belief that all people have intrinsic and inestimable worth.
Word Made Flesh International is dedicated to the well-being and safety of all staff and of anyone that we work with and walk alongside. We are committed to reflecting on our history with truth and honesty as part of building a stronger, more life-affirming future.
Over the last decade, our commitment to our principles of ministry has extended to the additions of organizational policies and procedures that underscore our commitments. The policies and practices are created to safeguard staff, constituents, and the vulnerable among who we serve from the past patterns of abuse. Our policies include:
- Community Standard
- Vulnerable Person Protection Policy
- Grievance, Harassment, and No Retaliation Policies
- Policy for Spending Authority
- Policy for Signing Authority
- The elimination of the Executive Director’s conflict of interest in raising funds for the organization and raising funds for personal support
- Annual review of the Executive Director by the board
- Board policy for confidentiality and conflict of interest
- Board policy for Effectiveness
- Review of the Board Chair every 2 years
Word Made Flesh is currently working on ways to provide compliance training for the above policies for its staff and will continue to work to develop practices that safeguard staff and communities.
We affirm the bravery of all of the victims of abuse in speaking truth and mourn the fact that they have needed to practice such bravery because of the suffering they have experienced.
On behalf of Word Made Flesh International and the Word Made Flesh International Board of Directors,
International Executive Director
The public letter stating concerns about Chris Heuertz can be found at: https://medium.com/@daphneeck/open-letter-lets-talk-about-chris-heuertz-3ca661a58437