Unitarian Universalists are preparing to meet in Louisville for General Assembly in June 2013, where we will gather under a theme of “from promise to commitment.” This theme, while admirable in many respects, has served to underscore the pain of those who have gone unheard and un-cared for in the wake of clergy misconduct. It is time that the promises of our association to victims of misconduct and the congregational systems devastated by its corrosive force are remembered and finally fulfilled.
At General Assembly in 2000, a formal apology to victims of clergy misconduct was offered by UUA Executive Vice President Kay Montgomery. This apology was received as a balm for broken spirits, a salve for wounded souls who finally felt seen, heard, and understood by UUA leadership. The importance of this moment cannot be understated. Nor can it be understated how painful, distressing and re-traumatizing the subsequent 13 years of near-silence on some of the key issues involved have been for many of those same people, as well as for our congregations struggling with histories of misconduct. Our accompanying letter outlines this legacy in detail.
We, the undersigned, are asking the candidates for UUA Moderator and Board of Trustees to publicly indicate their willingness to start a new national conversation on clergy misconduct in the UUA, and to ensure that survivors of misconduct have a real voice in that conversation. We ask them to commit to using the powers of the Board to take ownership of the recommendations of the Safe Congregation Panel, to update them as needed, and to hold the staff accountable for implementing them fully. And we ask them to investigate the accountability relationship between the Board and Ministerial Fellowship Committee, with an eye toward balancing the need to protect institutional interests with a pastoral responsibility to care for victims of misconduct.
Please sign this petition to indicate your willingness to hold our association accountable for fulfilling its promise to victims of clergy misconduct. The time for our continued silence has come to an end.
UPDATE: Both candidates for UUA moderator have endorsed the initiative to reopen the clergy misconduct conversation. Jim Key has posted this on his website and Tamara Payne-Alex has posted this on hers.
And UUA Board candidate Rob Eller-Isaacs sent the following statement:
"As a minister of long tenure, a former member of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and a past President of the UUMA I am well aware of the lasting damage done to individuals and to congregations by abusive ministers. As a meber of the UUA Board I pledge to reveiw the Associations policies to be certain staff responsible for providing support and counsel to survivors and discipling perpetrators have the resources they need to offer effective, compassionate service."
We are grateful for these generous responses to our call, and will continue to update the petition as more responses come in.