Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


Safe Houses

The sure proof way to ensure that everyone in church is “okay.”

Yesterday Christians for Biblical Equality produced a list of various ways that churches can proactively address the problem of domestic violence both within congregations and the greater community.

Rev. Anne O. Weatherholt, who is rector of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Maryland, and in 2008 authored the book, Breaking the Silence: The Church Responds to Domestic Violence, a guide for clergy, congregations and church leaders, offered some helpful guidelines for making churches “Safe Houses.”

Weatherholt’s first line of instruction caught my eye: Always assume that there are persons in your church who have experienced or are experiencing abuse. Be aware of subtle messages in your church that promote the assumption that “everyone here is okay and every marriage and relationship is healthy.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as Cleo LaRue reminds me, in I Believe I’ll Testify, has said the same thing a bit more poetically: all houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses.

For those of us whose lives have been touched by various forms of abuse, whether physical, sexual, emotional, or, maybe even spiritual- and the statistics would suggest there are many of us- I can think of nothing more liberating than a space in which to tell the truth about ourselves, that we’re often not “okay” and our relationships bear the strain.

I venture to guess that all of us, regardless of whether or not our own story has been touched by abuse, need a “safe house” of sorts.

Most of us find our safe houses outside of church.

Maybe this is because many of us have been in churches that don’t tell the truth about themselves.  They pretend that everything is hunky dory, or that only certain people with a particular set of characteristics, be they, for example, gay, mentally ill, or, in some cases, simply women called to ministry, are not “okay.”

This sort of thing is nothing more than false advertising, because we’re all screw-ups in some way or another.

These days my son, like the rest of his class of kindergartners, is learning that when he is hurt and becomes angry, he can go to his safe place.

Where do we go in our churches?

 

 

 

 



Previous Posts

Writing Sabbatical—and "The Departure of the Prodigal Son"
I'm sorry: my absenteeism at this intersection can be attributed to a number of things lately, the most pressing of which is my forthcoming book with author and Christian addiction specialist Jonathan Benz. The book (Prodigal Church or a version of it) is now officially under deadline and by April 1

posted 10:55:10am Jan. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Restless Soul Hall of Fame: Sister Corita Kent
Since NPR's recent segment, Sister Corita Kent has come to mind a few times this week as someone who d

posted 10:23:30am Jan. 16, 2015 | read full post »

"I Am Charlie Hebdo"
I struggle to know how to greet you after such a long hiatus from posting here—and in light of how much has happened in the world since Christmas

posted 4:42:48pm Jan. 12, 2015 | read full post »

A Christmas Homily
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. —Luke 2:6,7 The sheer physicality of this picture strikes me this Christmas. The ba

posted 1:54:50pm Dec. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Mental Health Break—Sprawl II
My favorite band these days is Arcade Fire, and I've featured the Canadian indie rock group before at this intersection between God and life. The lead singer studied Kirkegaard in college and their songs, like this one, are often subtle but brilliant critiques of the least aesthetically pleasing thi

posted 12:58:15pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.