From Pastor Don Follis of Pastor to Pastor Initiatives who organized a day-long forum for clergy co-sponsored by Urbana Theological Seminary:
“Addressing more than 60 pastors and church leaders, Ruth told her story of being a survivor of sexual violence. Throughout the day, she covered a wide array of topics, including power, misogyny, patriarchy, silence, anger, guilt, shame and forgiveness. As the day unfolded, Ruth honestly and humbly navigated a host of challenging questions.
“It was a sobering day, but as Ruth said, this topic chose her. She has not shied away from speaking truth to power to both pastors and parishioners as she addresses sexual violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment and how the wider church community must respond with courage and integrity.
“I highly recommend Ruth to your church or group.”
From Rev. Keith Sundberg, who organized a 2-day event at his church, Wayside Presbyterian Church, Erie, PA:
“Pastors and congregations tend to think about ministries as programs within the church. How do we respond to sexual violence? immediately becomes: What would a program look like? Instead I have begun to think about the church as a birthing place of ideas. We nurture people and send them out into the world with new insights and new skills for ministry. Pastors and congregations also worry about numbers. How many came? And of those that attended how many were transformed? God only knows. That one man or one woman was brave enough to enter into the pain of another for an hour or a day is remarkable. Their presence meant that they were pondering how to come alongside another and bear their pain. If one person was willing was that enough for one church’s effort? As I looked around the room on Saturday and then on Sunday, I knew there were many more. They hinted at their openness with words, with peaceful silence, with a look of compassion, with their prayers, with a kindness they extended to our speaker. We are fooling ourselves if we think woman and men who have experienced sexual violence are going to attend a church, especially one where they don’t know anyone. Their experience of “The Church” has been most likely shame. Why would anyone risk that again? Ministry is not so much waiting for them to come to us as it is us going to them.
“Rev. Ruth Everhart helped us practice listening. She shared her story so that we could know we could listen to others. She risked allowing us to ask questions that could be painful for her because of our ignorance so that we wouldn’t raise them with someone more vulnerable. She modeled a peaceful and loving presence that we are to emulate when we care for others. She showed that as frightening as it was to talk about something so painful we can do it as she did it. Ruth helped us understand the line from the Lord’s Prayer: Deliver us from evil. Evil befalls people randomly. Piety and faith are no safeguard. God delivers us from the dilatory effects of evil into new life, healing and wholeness.
“Ruth unpacked the insights of our faith so that we now know we have good news to offer victims and survivors. We have a tradition of equality between the sexes that was put forth by Jesus. We have biblical stories of respect for the human body. We have a history of fighting injustice for those who have no power. We have a legacy of compassion for all people. We are most clearly suited to help those who have suffered from predators.”