Sunday’s homily from Rev. Sean about how we respond to harm in our society, how we make amends for the harm that we cause, and how restorative justice offers a different response, might have reminded longer-term members that we have experienced misconduct from former religious professionals, that relationships have been lost in the aftermath, and that some of us continue to hold these unresolved feelings and unrestored relationships with a heavy heart.
Responding to the actions of our former religious professionals has been the difficult work of five successive boards of trustees. In our work to discern the most responsible and caring path forward, we learned that continuing to acknowledge what is now a part of our history is absolutely necessary for healing and for creating a healthy, protective culture at Foothills.
Many of us are likely to be strongly conditioned to not want to speak of this part of our history — because we are aware of the pain that still resonates out from it in ourselves and our friends, because we hold conflict-avoidant energies, because we still mourn the loss of relationships. Because it still hurts.
And yet, healing and defusing of old, unconscious patterns of collective behavior won’t happen unless we keep holding space for us to process together and move through this part of our community’s experience and history.
As one part of that unfolding work, the board has written a narrative meant to help newer members understand what may feel unspoken here at Foothills, and to help us all practice speaking the truth in love. You can find that here.
We’ve also compiled a full archive of events and a detailed narrative that is meant for future lay leaders to understand our full history and to better prepare them to respond to future episodes of misconduct. Because misconduct happens. We are all fallible human beings. We make covenants. We break covenants. And we seek to repair what we have harmed, through transparency, courageous honesty, and taking full responsibility for our actions.
If you are a member of record in our congregation, and you feel that reading the detailed accounts of our recent past might help you in your integration of these events, we invite you to send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Rev. Elaine, responsible for pastoral care in our congregation, will coordinate access to these confidential materials and offers her ministerial companionship in processing this experience.
Please do not hesitate to reach out for pastoral support as you process this information, the service on Sunday, or anything else that may be weighing on your heart and mind. Click here to request support.