This month two events were held – one in the Episcopal Church, and one on TV – that I believe are worthy of attention and definitely qualify as good news.
The Episcopal Church holds a General Convention every 3 years and is the bicameral governing body of the church. It’s comprised of the House of Bishops, with approx. 200 active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay deputies elected from the 109 dioceses and 3 regional areas of the Church, at over 800 members. This year the General Convention was held in Austin in early July. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (whom many of you may remember from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding), and Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, vice-president of the House of Bishops, impacted by the #metoo movement, have made it known that they consider it a priority now to examine the church’s handling and mishandling of cases of sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation. Several months before the convention they invited church members to share their experience and reflections of such in a Listening Liturgy. It was on live webcast the evening of July 4th, and I watched it with Peter. We were impressed with the courage and dedication of those many adults who discussed either their own stories or those of others who had entrusted them to speak for them. And it felt to me as well as to him, that this liturgy certainly provided some much-needed, long over-do steps to healing. I will say though, that Peter was more impressed by that liturgy than I was. I thought of those who didn’t share their stories, those who are locked up in pain, those who may have spoken up in their own churches and were not responded to appropriately, I wondered what more would be done afterward and I would have preferred some explanation of a definite plan in that direction. My experience has been that some of the most dysfunctional people I’ve known have been clergy, and many have sexual secrets. But still, it was an excellent event and the fact that it was scheduled on the front end of the conference spoke to the bishops’ awareness of the importance of prioritizing the need for examination, and healing. So, thank you, Bishops Curry and Gray-Reese!
During this past week another event was held, and this one was a momentous celebration of surviving, telling, and healing, as over 140 survivors of sexual abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during ABC’s broadcast on the 26th Annual ESPY Sports Awards on July 18. Aly Reismen, Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez each spoke out for the group, while accepting the award. The event was powerful, for so many reasons, not the least of which was that as described in The Representation Project’s weekly action email, the audience rose to their feet in a collective acknowledgement that never again could the sports world prioritize the reputation of a powerful man over the safety of another human being. I have a ton of respect and admiration for all of those young women. They’ve been through hell and they have supported and encouraged each other with a fierce determination. I know that their courageous choices are helping others to heal and are preventing the sexual abuse of many both now and in the future.
Another beautiful aspect of the ESPY event was brought to my attention in an email from Donna Jenson, author of Healing My Life From Incest to Joy. In preparation for the awards ceremony, ESPY’s production crew asked Pathways to Safety International (www.pathwaystosafety.org) for guidance on language for the press release, script, and overall approach in order to best serve the receivers of the award. And then the producers connected with Peace Over Violence (www.peaceoverviolence.org) to provide counselors on site for the rehearsal, overnight, and the day of the show. They also provided therapy dogs for the group for Tuesday and Wednesday. I just love this! I am just so impressed with people doing the right thing! Thank you, to all involved.