Legal Resources

Support and resources for your congregation's legal issues.

From time to time, questions may arise around legal issues. In order to address them, the ELCA has a department with a number of answers and resources.

To learn more, visit Legal Resources on


Sexual Misconduct Policy
Our congregations should be a safe haven for our children. Together with the ELCA, our synod works hard to prevent sexual misconduct and ensure a safe experience for children and adults alike, at every congregation. Prevention begins with education, so please read the following materials thoroughly. The Metropolitan Chicago Synod has implemented a thorough sexual misconduct policy to prevent issues before they arise, and to address them appropriately if they do. The policy should be read and adhered to by all rostered and lay leaders within a congregation. It is a good idea to keep a copy on file at your congregation.

Background Checks
In order to run a background check on a potential hire or congregational leader, you must first receive authorization from the individual. You can acquire a Background Check Authorization Form from the company you are using for background checks. 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.

Please keep in mind that:

  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.

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.

If you have specific legal questions, the synod may be able to help. Please contact us.

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