the Hope of Survivors

Trust & Truth Conference—Ottawa, IL

November 1, 2005

To Whom It May Concern:

As a pastor, I was not especially eager to attend a conference dealing with the subject of pastors who sexually abuse women in their congregations. I was afraid that it would be a celebration of victimization with a hearty dose of pastor-bashing thrown in by embittered presenters.

I found it to be neither. Steve and Samantha struck a nice balance. On the one hand, they were straightforward in their rejection of pastoral sexual abuse. They painted it as a sin and a serious misuse of pastoral privilege and power. They told of how much damage it does.

They placed the predominant blame on the pastor even when the relationship is said to be “consensual.”

On the other hand, they encouraged respect for pastors in general and avoided creating a suspicious mindset toward all pastors. And even the predatory pastors, they said, needed to be forgiven and cared about and not hated and rejected. As a pastor attending the seminar I didn’t feel any animosity or suspicion, but felt a positive, caring connection with Steve and Samantha. I sensed the Spirit moving through them.

I also appreciated their balance when it came to the victims. While they were quite sympathetic toward those wounded by clergy-abuse, they also recognized that it isn’t helpful to remain mired in a victim mindset long-term. At some point, victims need to forgive and move on if they’re to find true healing and be used by the Lord.

I recommend this conference. I came away encouraged and instructed. I also was reminded to watch my own life and actions lest I drift over the line myself.

In Christ,
Pastor Tim Underwood
Evangelical Free Church
Ottawa, Illinois

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart...Psalms 34:18