Speaking OUT to end clergy sexual misconduct.

Archive for December, 2014

Are You Ready to Share Your Story?

Last winter I wrote about the healing that comes when we tell our stories. For a year and half I’ve shared parts of my story on this blog. As I’ve written, and as readers have responded, the healing has been immense.

This morning I learned of an exciting book project. Three authors — bestselling novelist Robyn Williams, television news journalist Isabel Esteviz, and certified life coach Sheila Taylor — have joined forces on a book project that they call “Deception in the Pews.” The authors have put out a call for survivors’ stories. Here’s how they describe the book:

“Deception is alive and well in today’s churches. It is global, non-denominational and multicultural. No matter what your spiritual beliefs are, sheep are being led to slaughter. Faith has diminished and too many lives have been shattered by those eager to prey upon the unsuspecting. If you or anyone you know has ever been victimized by someone in church leadership, we would like to tell your story in the upcoming book, Deception in the Pews.

“This ground breaking book explores the hidden dangers and sexual deviances that exist within churches worldwide. Deception in the Pews reveals the pain, anguish, and despair felt by many who have suffered abuse at the hands of those who promised to shield them spiritually. Regardless of your spiritual affiliation, we want to hear your heartfelt stories to bring awareness to real-life issues of greed, immorality, and abuse in the church.”

The authors are looking for heartfelt, first-person stories of all types of abuse in the church. In addition to the story of abuse, they want to know the outcome: did you return to that church (or any church)? Are you still healing?

The deadline is February 1. The maximum word count is 1500. It’s OK to use a pen name. If your story is chosen, you’ll receive a stipend of $150. You can find full story submission guidelines here.

I’ve met some amazing people through this blog, I’ve heard stories of unbelievable betrayal by the church, and I’ve seen monumental courage among survivors. Your stories could be powerful tools of healing for other survivors. If you decide to share your story (which I hope you will), I pray it helps you take the next step forward in your own healing.

Mennonite Seminary Offers Justice and Healing

Earlier this year I wrote about the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder. Yoder spent decades sexually abusing women at the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. He had enough power to effectively shut down the seminary’s investigation of his victims’ complaints. One of his victims, Carolyn Holderread Heggen, worked tirelessly to overcome the official silence and organize a victims’ movement. Last year, the women created a liturgy of truth and reconciliation that culminated in a eucharistic meal served by seminary leaders. It was a lovely symbol, but it was not the justice that the victims were rightly demanding.

Now, finally, justice has come. This is what I’m talking about:

The Mennonite Quarterly Review will devote its January 2015 issue to the topic of sexual abuse within the Mennonite Church, with a focus on the events surrounding John Howard Yoder. The church is releasing an e-book along with the print edition. Interested readers will be able to order it through the church’s online store as well as Amazon and other mainstream outlets.

The AMBS board met in October and approved this statement.
      As an AMBS Board, we lament the terrible abuse many women suffered from John Howard Yoder. We also lament that there has not been transparency about how the seminary’s leadership responded at that time or any institutional public acknowledgement of regret for what went so horribly wrong. We commit to an ongoing, transparent process of institutional accountability which the president along with the board chair initiated, including work with the historian who will provide a scholarly analysis of what transpired. We will respond more fully once the historical account is published. We also support the planning of an AMBS-based service of lament, acknowledgement and hope in March 2015.

Finally, and most importantly, AMBS leaders are planning a weekend of healing events for the primary victims and the community on March 21-22, 2015. The schedule will include “an intimate gathering of truth-telling, reflection and prayer for those who were victimized and those who are bearing witness to the experience of others” and a service of “Lament, Confession, and Hope” for Yoder’s victims, members of the AMBS community, and their families. The AMBS board is committed to cover costs for travel and lodging for anyone victimized by Yoder.

For full details from the Mennonite Church, read the original press release.

For updates on this important story, please visit (and subscribe to) the blog “Our Stories Untold.”

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: