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As a pastor I know how difficult, but important, it is to address the topic of sexual abuse — from the pulpit, in leadership meetings, and in adult education classes. Because I have unsought expertise in this topic, I am committed to sharing resources with my readers. Please feel free to use these and share them with others (please keep my byline in the footer). Let me know what happens when you use them, and feel free to make suggestions for revisions, or suggest additional resources that would be helpful to you.
~ Devotional on Tamar, found in 2 Samuel 13.
For Team Training on responding to abuse:
~ Training Scenarios of various inappropriate behavior in churches — how would you respond?
~ Readers Theater version of the story of Tamar, found in 2 Samuel 13.
~ Discussion Guide (Ministry Leaders) to facilitate a church’s response to #MeToo.
For Small Groups responding to personal stories of abuse:
~ Discussion Guide (General) for groups responding to the experience of sexual abuse.
I’m happy — and rather nervous — to say that my article is on the cover of the Christian Century (January 2018). It’s a deeply personal story that I have not told before: A Pastor’s #MeToo Story
I also wrote an accompanying list: 18 Ways Churches Can Fight Sexual Assault in 2018.
As always, I look forward to your feedback. #ChurchToo
I saw this letter in the December issue of Sojourners — written in reaction to my “omitted chapter” which I titled: Skin in the Game. I share the letter here because it is evidence that sharing our stories can be helpful to others. Perhaps this letter will support someone else making a difficult decision.
Ruth Everhart’s article “Even In Cases of Rape” in the August 2017 issue helped me with a difficult decision. For years, I hung in with the church of my roots where three generations of my family were christened, married, and died. As a child, I witnessed behaviors by some clergy that I now know were grievous sins. As an adult, I listened to a pastor who told us 9/11 was God’s punishment for homosexuals and women who had abortions. When I questioned at a meeting why our church would not permit women to attend seminaries or become deacons, I was snubbed by the congregation. Feeling that I was in a spiritual crisis, I sent a heartfelt letter to our bishop, our spiritual leader, but received no reply. Still, I remained tied to my church, albeit by a thin thread. Thank you, Pastor Everhart, for helping me to finally cut that thread and pursue a church that is more godly.
What a treat to spend an hour in conversation with Michelle McKormick! We hardly stopped for a breath — there’s not even a station break. Michelle is dynamic, curious, and a people-lover — exactly what a radio host needs to be.
“Sound Off West Michigan” is on WJRW 1340 AM in Grand Rapids — the city where the “Heritage Hill Rape Robbery” took place in 1978. Michelle and I talk about the crime that “ruined” me and the events that followed, including the faith journey that spanned a decade.
I took some time to respond to the #MeToo movement. I decided to focus on contempt and gender inequality in the church. You can read it over at Sojourners: I Am a Pastor and Rape Survivor. #MeToo Is an Opportunity for the Church.
Last weekend I led a workshop called Shame: Hope & Healing in Vancouver, BC. What timing! The topic of sexual assault has been all over the news lately — stories of powerful men held to account for past behaviors. Women have been emboldened by the #MeToo campaign and are coming forward with their stories of abuse.
Allegations may have begun with Harvey Weinstein, but they have extended beyond Hollywood. In politics, in business — and in churches — there are powerful men who have abused and assaulted women — and others who have colluded and enabled that abuse. The media saturation of #MeToo made for extra tenderness around the subject of our workshop, but it also brought immediacy to our work. One thing we did was wrestle with a scripture story about sexual assault by powerful men. Five intrepid volunteers performed a reader’s theater version of the story of Tamar (2 Samuel 13).
(To download the Readers Theater manuscript, click on the “Free Resources” button.)
A big thank you to these volunteers reading the parts (left to right): Jonadab, Tamar, Narrator, Absalom, Amnon.
Perhaps you remember the characters in Tamar’s story: Jonadab (the crafty colluder), Amnon (the rapist, a half-brother), and Absalom (the revengeful brother). All three of the men abuse Tamar: by setting up the abuse, by actively raping, or by silencing her afterward. Absalom uses Tamar’s trauma as an excuse for revenge in order to enlarge his own holdings. Certainly the legacy of David’s abuse of Bathsheba lives on through his sons.
Meanwhile, Tamar’s plea echoes: Where can I carry my shame? (more…)
Susan’s Kidney Donation — Article in The Banner
Photo Credit: Dan Davis Photography, Grand Rapids, MI
Remember my sister Susan’s kidney donation a year ago? Here is an article in The Banner, which is the denominational magazine of the Christian Reformed Church.
This weekend I’m celebrating my anniversary of ordination, a significant date that goes unremarked by anyone but myself. On a whim I searched through a few old photos, and thought I’d share this one with you.
In this photo I’m wearing a stole that my mother (left) and my aunt (right) embroidered for my graduation from seminary. The picture was snapped at our house in Minneapolis right after the May 1989 graduation. (Geeky Trivia: Guess whose framed portrait is watching over the proceedings from behind.)
I was especially surprised by the gift of the stole since the ordination of women was a controversial subject in my world. I wasn’t entirely sure that my mother and aunt approved. Actually, I don’t think they were sure either. Perhaps they stitched their way into approval with that stole.
Don’t I look young? I was so excited to have finished seminary and be on the cusp of everything wonderful! I was pregnant in this picture. Clara, our second daughter, was born in December and by the following fall, we moved to upstate New York for my first call. I was ordained in Penfield, NY on October 14, 1990, a ceremony I muse about here as a Kodak moment.
This is a guest post by my sister, the Rev. Susan Joy Huizenga, who donated her kidney to Buddi on September 12, 2016. Related posts are archived here.
Photo Credit: Dan Davis Photography, Grand Rapids, MI
I visited my new sister Buddi yesterday. We enjoyed ourselves. Her grandson, Samar, 18 months old, acts as if he likes me. Buddi says “He loves you. He senses our connection.”
A year ago Buddi and I were just beginning to bond after dual major surgeries that dramatically changed both our lives. I donated my left kidney to her, and Buddi went from a dreary existence on dialysis to the picture of health you see here. The exposed scars on her arm are from dialysis. (more…)
Calvin Chimes Article: Ruth Everhart speaks on “ruined” purity
Last week I spoke about my book at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and also preached at Shawnee Park Christian Reformed Church. Three Calvin seniors attended both events, and spoke to me as well. One of them, Rae Gernant, wrote an excellent article for the Calvin Chimes.