What a hopeful week!
Three days ago, I was certified as a Sexual Ethics trainer for the UCC and Disciples of Christ in my region. The curriculum, developed by the Rev. June Boutwell, is superb. It incorporates two of the ideas that I offered when I sat in on the training in May. If we are effective here, this curriculum may become the national gold standard for the UCC and Disciples of Christ. It is exciting to be in on the ground floor.
Last night I attended a local event for community leaders. Among the twenty or so guests: a labor organizer who is developing a safe way for unionized low-wage workers to report sexual harassment, and a military officer who is working to prevent sexual assault in the U.S. Navy. (I shared with him the work that the FaithTrust Institute will soon be doing with Navy Chaplains). I may be the only one in my city addressing this problem in churches, but I’m surrounded by people doing this good work in other settings.
This morning, I will co-lead a four-hour class in Sexual Ethics for clergy in the Disciples of Christ. I’ll be working with the awesome June Boutwell. Early in my healing, I felt a strong call to work against clergy sexual abuse. I didn’t know what form my work would take; I just equipped myself with knowledge and watched for open doors. Now I’m walking through one of those doors. Who knows where this journey will lead?
Finally, tomorrow I’ll be going back to my former church for only the second time since I left four years ago. My friends “Heather” and “David” (a married couple) are being ordained as priests. Heather and I shared an office for a while before she left for seminary. They are remarkable people, and they now understand my experience. I have confidence in them. I am still nervous enough about being in that church that I’m bringing a friend for comfort: last year I went to a memorial service for a dear friend, and I experienced some unkindness. But this year, every time I have encountered former churchmates in public, they’ve been genuinely happy to see me. I expect nothing but joy tomorrow — and if I get any unkindness, I’ll just let it be absorbed in the joy of the moment.
So many signs of hope and healing!