Bear witness to Clergy abuse and other issues: Message from the CAW/United Church Clergy Organizing Committee

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You Have a Voice!

Share your views about clergy abuse, union advocacy for ministers and other important issues.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Our clergy union organizing initiative is in direct response to the hundreds of disturbing and often heart-breaking stories we have received from our United Church ministers, their partners and their children.

We have listened to many voices speak of the hurt, humiliation, frustration and anger caused by abuse of our clergy and their families, and the subsequent avoidance, victimization and abandonment of the Church's servants.

Our ministers and their families continue to share their experiences with us. By our reckoning, based on these stories received, the number of wounded and hurting clergy in the United Church tallies with North American statistical findings: one in four ministers have been or are being subjected to clergy abuse.

Too many suffer in silence. Some flee. Others become ill and unable to continue in ministry. Some stand up to the bullies and seek justice through the United Church's structures or in the provincial courthouse.

The pain our ministers and their families are suffering is evident in the letters and emails they have sent to us. The shame of the irresponsible and illegal treatment some have endured is proven in the court documents we receive.

We are carefully examining these stories, court records and church and legal documents. Errors, illegalities, general incompetence, arrogance and other factors weave their common and damaging threads throughout. Taken individually, each story is distressing. Taken collectively, they are appalling.

The more we learn, the more enlightened we become. We invite you to share your story of abuse or your experience of trying to support an abused minister. You are also encouraged to send us your views of issues relating to the treatment of clergy and their families. Please let us know if you want your story to be held in confidence, or if you would like it to be part of our expanding record of clergy abuse. The writing of your own experience may prove cathartic. It will certainly aid us all as we examine the realities of clergy abuse and consider ethical and legal solutions to this growing problem.

We believe it is not enough to listen to another person's pain and say, "Oh, that's a really sad story. We shall pray for you." While it is important to do that, we believe Jesus Christ is calling us to do more. That is why we are forming an ethical, accountable, legal and collective body to honour, protect and uphold our ministers, their families and their ministries. Please join us.

Karen Paton-Evans, Jim Evans, David Galston, Del Stewart and Colette Hooson
The United Church Clergy Union Organizing Team

Please send your letters to: CAW United Church Organizing Team or by post to Karen Paton-Evans, 354476 Mill Line, Ingersoll, ON N5C 3J5.