Me vs. UMC (United Methodist Church) ⚠TRIGGER WARNINGS⚠

As I have shared here before, at the age of 20 (but looked about 16 - late bloomer) I was Sexually Assaulted by a Methodist minister. This was back in the mid-1980s.

I was on a thread in the MS Members-only section where a member spoke about sharing his story of previous abuse with the current leadership of his former denomination.

I was inspired by this. So, last Wednesday, I responded to his thread (over several posts)....

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Wednesday at 12:21 PM

you just inspired me - went on to the UMC website, they have "Live Chat" this is what I (JUST NOW) wrote.....

Back in the 1980's, when I lived in [state], at age 20 (though I looked 16) I was Sexually Assaulted by a Methodist Minister. (yes it was reported to the local UMC leadership at the time.) Who do I speak to about my experiences at a national level so that similar abuses do not occur within UMC in the future??

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Wednesday at 12:22 PM

Vicki says:
Vicki says:
I'd suggest talking with the Sexual Ethics staff person at our general agency on the status and role of women. That agency offers resources and guidance about preventing sexual misconduct: http://umsexualethics.org/
Vicki says:
Sr. Director for Sexual Ethics and Advocacy [contact info]

ME:
I am a MALE, the minister was also a MALE...

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Wednesday at 12:24 PM

Vicki says:
Yes, I understand, but this is the agency that handles issues of sexual misconduct.
Vicki says:
Becky Posey Williams, the director there, is a great person to talk with.

ME:
understand - i will give this a try. Thank you Vicki for your assistance. Have a blessed day!

Vicki says:
She can direct you to other offices if that's appropriate for your situation.
Vicki says:
You too!

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Wednesday at 12:30 PM

Sent an email to their website [and to the person directly] - we shall see what happens

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Wednesday at 3:55 PM

I also sent an email to UMC as recommended....

here is the response (just arrived)

[Kal],

First, let me say how very sorry I am that you have experienced sexual abuse by a Methodist minister. I pray you have had resources available to you to help you move forward in your healing from this trauma.

I serve as the Senior Director for Sexual Ethics and Advocacy for The UMC and am on staff at The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. Our office is located in Chicago. Part of my position includes responding to calls and emails from victims and survivors of sexual misconduct happening within the Church. So, your email has arrived at the appropriate place. I would welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with you. I am available [...details deleted...]

Thank you so much for reaching out to me. My job is 100% about the prevention of and response to sexual misconduct within the Church. You will give me information that is needed and will be much appreciated.

Peace today,
Becky

My reply:

Probably [...details deleted...] would be the best time. Thank you. I am still in therapy (he was also not my only abuser).

- [Kal]

*****

I will be contacting her via phone next week - I will let you know how it goes!!

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Soooo... Fast Forward to TODAY - (4/15/19) - I had a 1 hour interview with Becky. It went very well. She heard my story (as far as I could tell, believed me 100%). She is working hard at instrumenting policies and trainings to deal with current abuses and prevent future abuse towards children and adults within UMC. She is also advocating within the church to come up with a formal "apology" to all past victims whose abuses were not dealt with very well.

She mentioned that since the whole #MeToo Movement started, her office has been inundated with calls from victims of past abuses by UMC leadership at unprecedented levels. Many from people like myself who had abuse happened to them many decades ago.

She also suggested that I reach out to the person in charge of the local church where the abuse took place - even though the perpetrator is more than likely deceased. I have emailed that person and hope to hear back soon.

My personal goal in all of this, as I relayed to Becky, is to prevent future abuses from happening and to be able to reach out (or have UMC reach out) to past victims who may have never been identified to let them know that they are not alone and that help is available for them.


I hope I can inspire others to do the same when confronting Abuses Within different Church Denominations.

--Kal
 
Great job, Kal!

It's a little annoying that the Methodists officially think that abuse can only happen to women, but at least you were listened to.
 
@Strangeways - Actually the "Sexual Ethics and Advocacy" just happens to be placed under the "General Commission on the Status and Role of Women" department, even though they address abuse regardless of gender.
 
Nice Kal, I'm glad you had a positive dialogue from them. That's a big deal to confront them, I hope this adds to your healing.
 
Kal, this is great! I know you were “worked up” about it. It’s great that it’s gotten this far, and been positive!

In other good news, I just spent time with a bishop. I’ve been waiting about 2 weeks for it. It’s not the first time we’ve talked about abuse, my abuse. (FYI, I’m in Lithuania and my abuse happened near Hartford, CT. I’ve been here in Lithuania for about 7 years, and about 20 here in Europe). But this time, he really understood the need to do something. This problem is not talked about at all. Not in the church, not in society. Zero. He’s all for doing something, and is going to get things rolling. It won’t be easy, nor quick. And for it to happen, it’s going to take me writing out my story to share with them. That’s fine by me. There are those here who are suffering, I am sure. He is too. And so I say:

I have dreamed of a kingdom coming, where evil drowns in mercy’s streams. I want to see those rivers of justice. I will use my voice for those who can’t speak!

(That’s actually a chorus from a song. But it just so perfectly describes my motivation and desire)
 
Kal, it took a lot of courage to reach our AND follow up with an interview. I don’t know if I would have been able to that.
 
Well done, Kal!

Praying that the outcome will be of some comfort and validation for you and that pro-active steps will be taken within that denomination to prevent further abuses and help other survivors to heal.

Lee
 
UPDATE: I contacted, as Becky suggested, the regional bishop in charge of the local church where the abuse took place. She said she would refer my case to an "assistant" - our schedules finally synched and I was able to talk with him today, for about an hour. I told him the story. He took notes. He, too, offered payment of therapy as a type of "reparation" (Becky did also, but I turned her down, but many MS'ers encouraged me otherwise, so I had a change of heart) and I actually said "Yes" so he is researching that as well. He is going to research the Minister-perp on the local level, getting his name, whatever happened to him and if any more complaints were filed against him. He will also assist Becky on filing a formal complaint against him on my behalf (whether or not it is posthumous).

Like Becky, he was appalled at what took place and offered condolences.
 
Just a thought. Being so quick to offer money for therapy sounds like there may have been others reporting.,.
 
UPDATE - Part 2: To clarify...

no $$$ yet. They are only looking into it. (church bureaucracy). But it was offered twice: national UMC sex abuse lady & the Regional Bishop's Assistant. I did not ask for it.

no lawyer is involved on my side. it's just me.

I would refuse any NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) as a condition of receiving funds if one was demanded. Not sure if one will be, since nothing is finalized yet.

My ultimate goal was "to be heard" and to make the abuse and what this Minister-perp did as public as possible so any other victims of the same Minister-perp will know they are not alone.

I don't really want their money either. To me it would be "blood money" and I would only accept it to then donate it to a cause of my choosing. However I would also continually submit invoices for future therapy sessions for my co-pays (my T currently accepts my Health Insurance). And, in turn, continue to donate the "reimbursement" elsewhere.

I will keep you updated on future developments.
 
UPDATE - Part 3 ...

after speaking with the Regional Bishop's Assistant, he sent me an update letter with a summary of what we discussed (he got many details mixed up but was willing and wanting me to make all corrections necessary to make the letter as accurate as possible so he could share these details with others in UMC leadership). Here is the corrected version (redacted, of course ;) ) ........

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Hi [Kal]:

I'm pleased we could finally find time to talk. I'm sorry for the circumstances but glad for the fact that you seem to be finding a healthy way of moving through and beyond your painful experience of 1984 and earlier. [additional greetings and salutations].

I'm sending this email to you to look over and comment on. I want to be sure that I got your story correct and am able to move forward in a helpful way.

Here is a summation of our phone call this morning, April [date and time and time zone]. We talked for forty minutes or so.

You were motivated to contact Bishop [Regional Bishop of state where abuse happened] after first calling Becky Posey Williams, with the UMC Status and Role of Women. Her position is "Sexual Ethics and Advocacy," email [email address]. You shared your story with her and she suggested you contact the bishop in [state where abuse happened]. It is your understanding that Becky is going to follow up with a complaint of some kind. She initially offered to see if there are counseling funds available to assist you as you work through issues of that event in the 1980s. You initially declined the offer but, after advice from other survivors, you have had a change of heart in the matter and would like counseling funds to be reconsidered.

Your story goes back to 1984 when you were a student at [name of college] in [city and state of college]. [specific details of the church: "TUV Methodist" and the Minister-perp]. You recall his first name only, [Rev. M-P]. During that year you sang in the choir and participated in a campus ministry: [name of campus ministry: "DEF" - no affiliation with UMC]. You had a ["DEF"] Mission Conference coming up and wanted to share your excitement with your minister. [Rev. M-P] offered to come to your home. While he was there he listened well and was particularly interested and complimentary in all you did. Looking back on it now, you see this as "grooming" because as the evening went on it became more and more intimate, with [Rev. M-P] giving you a back rub and then getting you on the floor to give you a massage. All the while he kept insisting that this was all good, but soon his hand went below your waist and into your underwear and began touching and fondling your genitalia. You reacted negatively and told him to leave, which he did.

This happened in November and it left you quite confused and upset. You were twenty years old at the time. You didn't initially leave ["TUV Methodist"] but as you went through the holidays and into the Spring you became increasingly more uncomfortable, conflicted, and confused and decided to go to another church. You ended up at ["GHI" Church - not Methodist], which was nearby. You also continued to be involved in the ["DEF"] campus ministry. There, you shared this story with the ["DEF"] Staff person assigned to the college, [Mr. "JK"], who also attended ["GHI" Church] with you. This put [Mr. "JK"] in a slightly difficult situation since his wife's parents also attended and were actively involved in ["TUV Methodist"] at the time. Together, you shared the story with the pastor of ["GHI" Church], but the pastor said there was nothing he could do about it. However, he encouraged you and [Mr. "JK"] to confront [Rev. M-P] about the incident. You and [Mr. "JK"] then went to [Rev. M-P]'s office and confronted him about the prior event. [Rev. M-P] , though blushing, claimed to not remember anything about the day in question. The two of you left and, at the time, made no other attempt to address the event.

About a year later, ["GHI" Church] received a new lead pastor. Soon after, you heard news that lead you to believe that [Rev. M-P] might be behaving in a similar way to others, specifically teenage boys. So you spoke to your new pastor who recognized the seriousness of the situation and decided to report it to the UMC authorities. This was 1986/87, you aren't quite sure.

While you cannot recall exactly what happened, you do remember that there was a meeting in [nearby large city]. You believe the UMC Bishop was present, as was [Rev. M-P] and [M-P]'s wife. Your own pastor from ["GHI" Church] accompanied you. You shared your story. [Rev. M-P] responded that he remembered all of the events of the meeting that took place in your apartment, including reaching below your waistline and into the underwear, but would not admit to any touching of genitalia. The Bishop seemed quite upset about this development and the fact that [Rev. M-P] admitted to almost everything. After your group meeting, the Bishop met with the two of you and was very apologetic. You have no idea whether any formal complaint was ever made but the end result was that [Rev. M-P] was allowed to finish out his tenure since he was nearing retirement age under conditions that he stay away from young people and children. So far as you know that was the end of it. Of course, it was not the end of it because there has been the unresolved feelings you have carried with you all of these years.

Ever since that event during the 1980s while attending ["TUV Methodist"] in [city], you sought out assistance and guidance to work through the trauma associated with the event.

In the mid 1990s, while seeking assistance, it was uncovered that you had also been abused by your own father when you were 3 years old but had blocked out the memories.

Beginning in 2017, you were able to afford professional Christian counseling. Such counseling was not paid for by insurance, but was paid for through funds on a Flexible Spending Account. When those funds ran out in August of 2018, you stopped the counseling.

Most recently you began to work even more on these feelings and concerns you had about events in the 80s after watching a recent four-hour documentary about Michael Jackson and his abuse of young boys. You felt even more resolve to address the trauma of the previous abuse by [Rev. M-P] and your father. Following that, you entered into counseling to work through issues related to those events, using your own insurance as long as it lasted. You are also participating in an online support group for male victims of sexual abuse. Soon after that you were prompted to contact the UMC denominational office to offer an official statement of the events that occurred, to see what, if anything became of [Rev. M-P], if other victims had come forward, and what could be done to reach out to other potential victims of [Rev. M-P] so that help and resources could be offered to them.

Your main focus now is to continue with your therapy. You have insurance but there are co-pays as well as limits. You have kept receipts of your counseling over the time you have been working this through. You are now wondering if the UMC on the National level or the [Regional] level has resources that can assist you trying to move through this issue.

My response was that I will share this with Bishop [Regional Bishop of state where abuse happened]. I will also follow up with Becky Posey Williams to try to coordinate with her. We will look into resources that are available. We must first discern the full name of [Rev. M-P]. Records from old Journals should not make that too hard. We will also learn who the Bishop was in 1986/87, and if it was the him that you met with or his District Superintendent. We will also discover whether there was an official complaint made and what the resolution of that complaint may have been. Pursuing other possible incidents might be more difficult because of the years that have passed and the difficulty of locating records in local churches but we will make the effort.

I will get back to you on this within the next few weeks. In the meantime, I hope you can review my notes about our conversation and help with any corrections or additions.

Blessings to you [Kal], and [further salutations].


["Mr. Assistant"]
Special Assistant to Bishop [Regional Bishop of state where abuse happened]
 
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