It’s been a little over 3 weeks since our #MeToo worship service, and the conversation is just beginning. A few of our Senior Sisterhood groups have been taking up brave and tender conversations around #MeToo – sharing their own experiences and reflections with one another. The small group conversations for women to reflect on problematic sexual experiences started tonight, with another on Saturday. And, the conversations for Men and #MeToo are set to begin next Wednesday. This last one has drawn the attention of NPR’s All Things Considered, who is doing a story on men and the #MeToo movement – they reached out to hear about our intent for these conversations, and how men are responding.
Another part of this continued conversation is also just beginning to take shape – the Restoring Wholeness Task Force announced by the Board as a part of the #MeToo service. Over the past few weeks, the Board has been drafting the charter for this Task Force, and thinking carefully about the desired ends.
The Board has been clear that we are called to be a church that deals directly with sexual misconduct and harassment, and that we want to be a part of shifting the culture towards one of greater respect, equality, understanding, and mutual liberation. To do this, we know we need to start by taking a good look at our past – for, as the Rev. Jan Christian says, “going back can change the way we go forward.”
Part of the work of the Task Force will be in collecting stories about our congregation’s past – including relationships between congregants and religious professionals, and the ways our congregation’s culture, as a system, may have contributed to a lack of clarity or other factors that may have allowed misconduct or harassment to occur. The goal is to learn, to change, to grow, and to do better.
If you are someone who is wanting to share about an experience that you are thinking through from the past that may connect to this conversation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, which for now (until our Task Force is fully up to speed) will be responded to by me, or by Rev. Sean directly. You can trust that your confidentiality will be protected, as together we continue to understand and learn from our own past – so that we can create an even stronger future.
This is brave, and sometimes challenging work. I am proud to serve a congregation whose leadership has been willing to do the difficult and yet faithful thing at each step, with a commitment towards being that church that we know we are called to be. And, I am grateful that we can create spaces and opportunities for this brave learning to happen together, so that we can all grow, and learn, and change, for the better.