|PELC 2015 Update-Part 2—Kyoko Sears|
I had the privilege to volunteer at The Hope of Survivors (THOS) exhibit table at the conference.
It was my first time volunteering and I felt intimidated to approach people so I observed the other volunteer as she engaged with people. As the hours went by, my fear diminished.
To my surprise, most people acknowledged that clergy sexual abuse (CSA) happens and had positive responses to the ministry. Many, especially women, therapists and counselors voiced how appreciative they were of the works of THOS. This was very encouraging. The older pastors and church leaders would comment that they had to deal with CSA in their churches. Some pastors would comment that they are dealing with it now. When I heard that, I prayed that they were able to handle it with care and hand out the brochures. Other pastors voiced the urgency in equipping church leaders with how to deal with CSA is needed more than ever.
A few ladies shared that they have experienced clergy sexual abuse. One lady became a therapist and appreciated that THOS exists and wanted more information about the ministry.
Another young lady told us the story that she was approached by a youth pastor and she courageously said no to his solicitation. She found out that the pastor was abusing another congregant. When she voiced her concern she was reprimanded by the church members. She was hurt and has not attended a church since then. It was a humbling experience to pray with her for her healing.
While we were handing out THOS brochures and talking to people, a pastor came and shared upsettingly that a sister was solicited by another married pastor at that very conference.
CSA can happen anytime, anywhere, to anybody. It knows no racial, denominational, and religious boundaries.
Through volunteering for THOS exhibit, I learned even more how important it is to make people aware of CSA, discuss it, and acknowledge when it happens, handling it biblically in the eyes of the Lord, giving care and support to the victim, discipline the pastor, and bring care to the congregants to make church a safer place to worship God.