Sunday, September 30, 2007

Today's Revelations

After spending the past few days a little under the weather and very depressed emotionally, I found a large volume of anger inside. I am in the process of acknowledging the anger and releasing it out of me.

I certainly have reason to be angry at the church government. I have reason to not trust them. Anger, however seems to do nothing to bring about change, but instead it ravages me. I am miserable when I am very angry. Once I recognize the anger and can find waves to vent it - usually emailing or talking to someone I trust - the emotional effect lessens.

After meeting with Bob and talking with him on two occassions on the phone, I realized that the past regional minister had been duped. Bob was upset but upset does not equal repentant. Neither is he flagrantly declaring he was not wrong. Instead he seems incapable of focussing his mind on any of it. He seemed to mentally dance around it all, and, when confronted with his own denial, appeared confused. To see himself clearly as God sees him is evidently beyond his capability. To me this is a sad existence. It is only in seeing truth that we experience God's grace. God's grace makes seeing truth worth it every time.

Sharing my desire to see mandatory psychological testing done with all reported cases of misconduct was far from embraced by Reg, the present regional minister. His further aluding to the fact that he disagrees with a fair amount of what I wrote him has me wondering what kind of Christian he is. And I am angry.

I am angry that he is not willing to take a stronger stand, that he seems to be aligning himself with Bob. "If you are not with me then you are with Bob," is not a very rational statement but I think it is reasonable for me to feel. It also frustrates me that Reg's lack of full response to my verbal appeal and my written letter has not occured. The first time he alluded to an answer but did not state it clearly. The second time he did not refer to my questions at all. Was that intentional? Surely it must be.

I am angry at Reg and the past top dog. I feel an attempt by both men to silence me and not stir things up for Bob's family. I am angry about Bob's silencing me for so many years. I am angry that society silenced me all those years.

I am angry that Tom seemed to want to silence my complaints, as well, in defending Reg to me. I am angry that the chair of the regional minsterial committee hasn't gotten back with me after he said he would. I hear, "Ignore her and she will eventually get quiet."

I feel as if too many men are patting me on the head and saying, "Now, now, don't be so upset," when in reality there is much to be upset about.

Don't worry, I know that I can't remain in this angry state. I know that it is good to find resolution and a place of release and forgiveness. I also know that stuffing it down isnt' the way to get there, at least for me it never works that way. I always seem doomed to experience the anger fully, face the damage and pain inflicted by others, and only then can I find resolution and the ability to release the other from my unforgiveness.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Closure After Abuse

As I was defending my need to write a 2 1/2 page letter to the regional minister and expecting a reply to all the issues I discussed, I discovered why I am less driven to get online and post my thoughts.

Closure. This summer when I confronted Bob, I found my voice and I used it. I spoke truth. I spoke of my own pain. I confronted a man in denial with the reality he cannot see. In finding my voice, I found closure in my experience with my perpetrator.

While I have wanted to add to my story and fill in the blanks between the abuse and my present, I find it difficult to find the words. When I began the blog, I found it difficult to wait a few hours to post what I was feeling and the words filled the page easily.

Closure is evidently a real experience. Now to find that same closure with the church.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Revision of Clergy Misconduct Policy

It seems that the church is going to review the misconduct policy. I received an email from the regional minister two days ago and the ministry commission followed his counsel to appoint a task force to review the misconduct policy. He tells me that I will be invited to share with this task force once it is functioning.

Emotions are strange things. I wish I could tell you that I am jumping up and down with joy. It would seem I have a reason to rejoice. Instead, I have felt sad and numb for the past two days. Too sad and too numb to write the post.

Reg's response was brief. He left several questions unanswered and several revelations unresponded to.

I talked with Tom about the reply and expressed my ambivalence. I think he is frustrated with me. He wants to defend Reg and does so, until I argue with him a while. He seems to trust Reg but I do not. God spoke to my heart that I could trust Tom. Before I ever talked with him, I knew he was part of my healing. I do not trust Reg. That doesn't mean he is not trustworthy but while I have faith that God has placed Tom in my life for good, I am not in the least bit sure of that with Reg.

Here is Reg's reply:

I wanted to just quickly respond that I got your letter. Even as you wrote it I suspect you knew that I would not agree with everything in it. Thankfully, I believe that agreeing with a person is not the criteria for care concern and compassion towards another person. We are called to love each other regardless of agreement so I want to extend to you my expression again of my concern and care for you.
This past weekend, the Regional board acted upon the recommendation I made that a task force be appointed to work on reviewing and updating our procedures for response to Sexual Misconduct by clergy. Because the Ministry Commission has such an incredible workload, we felt it would get things accomplished quicker if we appointed a separate panel. That panel is being appointed and as soon as they begin meeting we will find an opportunity for your input to them.
I can’t predict the time line right now, but wanted to let you know that we are serious about responding to the issues you have raised and want to do so in a timely fashion.

May God continue to bless you


I have no clue what he disagrees with. Perhaps I will ask him.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Power of a Golf Ball

Amazing thing, recreation is. I have taken up golf again and found it to be just what I need to get my mind and focus off of the stresses and anxieties of pastoral abuse and work as well. Nothing is quite like hitting that golf ball to release the tension and to give me a sense of accomplishment - when it goes somewhere near to where I intend. Oh heck, even when it lands in the creek, I enjoy it.

Teaching is hard. People think that teachers get this lovely 2 months or more off every summer. Well, in reality, teachers work those hours during the other 10 months. I still haven't gotten everything caught up from the start of school. Getting there but not there yet. Stress builds.

I have been reasonably at peace waiting these two weeks for Reg's reply to my letter. I talked to Tom this morning and he is expecting a positive reply and thinks, but is not sure, I will receive more than I am expecting. He has obviously been on the phone with Reg, but I did not ask too many details. Of course that makes my mind leap off in all sort of directions. My hope is to be asked to participate in a task force to strengthen the pastoral misconduct policy. Even better, I hope to hear that Tom himself is going to chair it. Now that would be a slice of heaven.

I went out to the driving range this afternoon and hit 75 golf balls and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening grading 600 papers to keep my mind off of it. Obviously the 75 golf balls did me the most good.

My talk with Tom this morning was just a casual one. I had requested it after I mailed the letter and this is the first time we could arrange our schedules. I have been ok so I didn't have much to talk about, but I didn't want to throw away the opportunity to just relate. Each time I talk with Tom, I come away with more healing. Piece by piece and bit by bit I find it. I also find an inner strength inside that I did not have when I began this blog. I am growing through this adventure and learning how to stand up for what is right. My view of myself is more secure and confident. My trust of my abilities grows.

In all of this I honor God's work. How appropriate and miraculous that the healing I am now receiving is coming through the heart of another pastor in the same denomination. It isn't just Tom though, it is the church. The church as a whole knows nothing of my past journey and I plan to keep it that way. They however have given me much of what I need, unconditional love and acceptance and a place to grow.

I will let all of you know when I hear from Reg. In the meantime I ask for your prayers. A less than positive response will not be easy to receive.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Reply Ready to Fly

My reply to Reg is finally written and will soon be in the mail. I have been waiting on my pastor, Tom's, input and he was out of town. When I saw him at church yesterday, he gave his go, said I did not need a letter from him to accompany mine because he had already done some behind the scenes work. He expects my letter to be received well.

As to what behind the scenes work Tom has done, I am trusting him and his heart. He seemed hesitant to fill me in on the details and I didn't push. If Tom won't tell me, it is usually because he is protecting someone else's confidence as I would want him to protect mine.

My husband wrote a letter to accompany mine, advocating for my voice to be heard. I will include it in a later post.

The highlights of my letter include a response to his "acceptance" of the differences in mine and Bob's story:

You are right that we both probably believe our own statement is true and that this should lead to a great deal of discomfort on the part of the hearer. However only one rendition is true and your statement that this must simply be accepted is completely unacceptable to me.

Much of my proposal is based on the premise that the discrepancies in our testimonies are reason for many red flags. It is a fact that few victims lie. It is also a fact, actually stated in the Church’s present policy, that many accused do lie. What is not stated and is even more disturbing is the fact that perpetrators exist who can so compartmentalize their memories that they display complete denial of the truth. With a denial of truth comes an inability to find repentance or internal change. Looking toward the future, this type of discrepancy must be dealt with, and the many ways I proposed dealing with it need to be heard, wrestled with, and done so by the whole commission.

In another paragraph I address the shocking revelation that the current file contains my agreement to the monitoring of Bob that was to occur:

Your statement that the file contains my approval of the monitoring process was shocking and grievous. I was unaware that I had held any voice or right to agree or disagree with this setup. I was unaware that my reticent and weak “ok” was being viewed as an official statement of agreement with the decision. No one sat down with me, as I now know the policy states, and I was not informed in the conversation that my agreement was being sought. Instead in an unannounced phone conversation from Tom Neal, I was informed that some type of monitoring would occur but was denied further information as to the form or extent of the monitoring. I remember Tom Neal repeating his statement and my feeling a sense of pressure from him to give some statement of agreement. I reluctantly and half heartedly gave an “ok”. I believe the exact words to his question of my agreement was “I guess,” not exactly a resounding agreement. Tom’s pressure now seems one more use of a pastor’s power to get what they need at my expense. This realization that my approval was sought in a less than forthright way is disturbing.

I also wrote a heartfelt appeal to Reg's evident decision that my voice not be heard by the state ministerial committee.

In the first and last paragraph, you state: “I assure you that your concerns will be presented to the Ministry Commission when they get going on revising the documents for ministry,” and “Again I assure you that I will make sure your input is received.” These statements appear to be a response to my request to present my own suggestions to the ministry commission. I am not content with your response. I have the unique ability to explain the needs of the victim from an experiential perspective. Though I appreciate your willingness to try, you, nor anyone else, can share with the passion or illumination that originates in my experience.

I have decided that in some way, my voice will be heard by the leadership of the Church. My desire is that this would happen in a similar setting and atmosphere as my conversation with you occurred. I desire to sit down and work with the Commission on Ministry as an invited individual with important experiences and strategies to suggest. I would like to be involved with a task force that is looking at and forming a newly revised policy. I am offering to give rather than to take.

If you remember, I asked (the previous state minister), via email, to be allowed to speak to the commission members, but my request never received a reply and the ministry commission met without me. I felt dishonored and silenced by this lack of acknowledgement. I need the present commission to offer me an opportunity to speak, as evidence of their good faith. I am requesting that you reconsider this decision and that you talk further with (the chair of the ministerial group) and other leaders on the commission before providing me with a clear answer to my request.

While other points are discussed, such as the role of an advocate, these 3 areas are the main thrust of my letter. Tom seems to think the road is paved for my reception. I remain in doubt, and by keeping my hopes at bay, prepare myself for the next step if I my request to speak is rejected.

I have to wonder if the state realizes that I probably have a valid law suit over the policy not being followed as it was written. While I have no desire to hold this over their head, it seems evident to me that I am offering a win-win scenario here. They have nothing to lose by accepting my input and a lot to lose if they do not. Out of my request, they gain important input and I gain the hearing of my voice by the region in which I was abused. They gain a strong and protective policy while I see powerfully positive results proceding from my pain. I believe God truly desires to turn the darkness into His light for all of us and I believe my chosen path is the path of God's desire for all. Pray that they will see this.