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TarDevil

Clergy Sexual Misconduct

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Hello Everyone - I'm new to the discussion boards but not new to Bishop Spong, and I'm thankful to be here.

 

I am a survivor of clergy sexual misconduct in the UMC (our former pastor was my mentor as I was leading a large Bible study and took every opportunity to make sexual innuendos or outright comments, so I involved the Bishop, and he was suspended - should've been defrocked, but that's for another discussion). We left that church and went to one in the ELCA, told the husband and wife pastors what had happened to me and was assured that I was "safe" there. Six months later, the male pastor resigned due to - wait for it - clergy sexual abuse. We left that church and landed in a totally different denomination, met with the pastor after we'd been attending for 1.5 years, told him my story and explained that, while we'd be faithful attenders, we would never join. Within minutes he made a comment about my appearance - with my husband sitting there. We've not been back to that church since, and it's been months.

 

My husband and children want nothing to do with any church; I think we all have PTSD from these things. I was raised in the church and never thought I'd be without it, and it frankly frightens me to be without it - but I'm not sure why. I wanted to raise our kids in the church - and our youngest (in elementary school) has not been baptized. We just don't trust pastors in general any more. What do we do from here? I feel lost without a church community (my husband never wants to return to one). I don't know how to be a Christ follower without a community; aren't we *supposed* to be in community?

 

What to do from here???

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While I might not be the most qualified of people to talk to your situation ... I am a very devout agnostic and hold the majority of organized religions (churches) with not a little skepticism.

 

But I might suggest - live your life as you think others should live theirs.

It is what you do that matters not what you believe and what organizations you belong to.

 

Personally I volunteer some of my spare time ... Rotary and other places. (Note Rotary is a vehicle and not a destination). Also I might set aside a little 'quality' time with your family. I will leave it up to you what that 'quality' might look like.

 

All the best.

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What to do from here???

 

I must admit I don't have any answer for you. I myself left my church community of 19 years at the age of 19, and have never returned. Whilst there are elements of that community I miss, I could never imagine returning to that religious environment. But of course my views on religion and Christianity have changed too.

 

However I can understand how disappointed or lost you may feel about not finding that right community. If you have been brought up that way like I was, it is very conditioning. To the point that without it there is most likely a huge hole in your life.

 

All I'd like to say is go easy on yourself. There's no rush to square away a new church. Let your family be your community and see what comes. Maybe try out a visit here or a visit there, perhaps even secular groups like Rom suggests (Rotary), sporting clubs or other communities, and you'll probably find something becomes your new community by natural means.

 

I think human beings by nature are communal, in general. We like spending time with like-minded people and often feel rewarded for helping one another. I'm sure given time you'll feel comfortable with somewhere.

 

All the best.

Paul

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TarDevil, Your husband and children might be telling you something important. I am a Christian and feel that Heaven and the Beatific Vision are spiritual states of happiness not only after we die, but a state of being in the present moment within our soul that is at the center of our being. I don't feel we need a church to experience it because it is an individual experience even though a church can help, but it can also hinder as you experienced. Our time on earth is our moment in time to organize and arrange our thinking habits in order to enjoy and experience new higher thoughts that will motivate us to become even deeper connected to everything. The spiritual life does not put an end to our normal life and replace it, but takes part in our life to clear road blocks, energize, enrich and set free our spirit so it can work through us. Good luck working through your endeavor.

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TarDevil,

 

If you have regular friends , are in the presence of other people, or communicate with others through any means ... you are in community. Most all here have had negative experiences of some kind in Christian churches. It's part of life. Clergy is not exempt from humanity which in general includes lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life. We as Christians are told to seek first the kingdom of Heaven and righteousness. That is not the same thing as the church system or building because it is also written that the kingdom of Heaven/God is within you.

 

Just something to consider,

Joseph

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I'm sorry you've had such a bad string of luck with church clergy. That's terrible! I call it luck because I've been a part of 6 church communities in my life and not a one had the problems you're describing. I think you should hang in there. The VAST majority of churches do not have sexual misconduct issues with their pastor. One study shows that less only 1.29% of people experience sexual misconduct with clergy. 10% of married clergy have had affairs which is far less than the general population (70%).

 

Is there another reason you're struggling with going to church?

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