Friday, May 6, 2011

Goodbye for now

I have cherished the community on this blog. Thank you for being here. You are people with whom I have shared many memories, troubling thoughts, and heartfelt hopes. You are people who have inspired me.

I know the future will hold new challenges and new adventures. I hope to still share some of them with you. But for now, I’m going to take a break.

Thank you for walking with me on this part of my journey. I wish all of you Godspeed in your own journeys.

I hope that, in sharing my own pain, I may have helped someone else. I hope that my story may have served as an example -- an example for survivors of moving forward without shame, and an example for church and denominational leaders of why clergy sex abuse must be addressed in a systemic manner.

I celebrate my survival, because make no mistake about it, there are many others whom clergy sex abuse kills. It kills physically via suicide. And for many who still breathe, it kills them psychologically and spiritually. And for those who survive the abuse itself, the process of trying to report it may yet kill them off, because the complicity of the many can hurt even more than the brutishness of the one.

I am a survivor of something that tried to kill me. I am grateful.

But now, I will walk privately for a while, and I will count my blessings every step of the way, listening, with peace, to the wind in the trees and the birds that surround me.

For those of you who say that this work we have done in Baptistland has been without results and of no value, I say to you flat-out that you are wrong. The value rests on the truth of the work itself.

And for those of you who have struggled with me in this work, I leave you with these additional thoughts. When Martin Luther King, Jr., contemplated the discouragement and bewilderment of seemingly endless efforts toward change, he said this:

The thing that makes me happy is that I can hear a voice crying through the vista of time, saying ‘It may not come today or it may not come tomorrow, but it is well that it is within thine heart. It’s well that you are trying.’ You may not see it. The dream may not be fulfilled, but it’s good that you have a desire to bring it into reality . . . Thank God this morning that we do have hearts to put something meaningful in.
For many of us, we have dreamed of a Baptistland where there would be effective clergy accountability systems and where clergy abuse survivors would be received with compassion and care. This dream may not be fulfilled in my lifetime . . . or in yours . . .  but it is good that we have hearts that desire to bring this dream into reality.

Our hearts are broken by the abyss of sexual abuse and cover-ups that we have seen in Baptistland. Our hearts are rent asunder by the enormous anguish suffered by Baptist abuse survivors who continue to endure so much hatefulness and do-nothingness, and all in the name of religion. Yet, with the pain of a broken heart, I say, “Thank God we have hearts that break.”

I will continue to wonder about Southern Baptist leaders. Where are their hearts?

Good-bye for now. Happy trails!

24 comments:

William Thornton said...

Sorry to see it but I wish you well.

William Thornton

Thy Peace said...

God bless you Christa Brown. You are truly a light to all of us.

Wendy Stubblefield said...

Christa, thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for making so many sacrifices to help those hurt and affected by Baptist clergy sex abuse and Baptistland complicity. I am forever grateful for how you've supported me and what I've learned through your work. You're a faithful servant and friend. Best wishes as you continue your journey.

Jeri said...

You've made tremendous contributions to the cause of the innocent. You're my hero!

Elisabeth said...

I'll miss you, and wish you well.

Your sharing your story has helped me.

Valarie said...

You will never be far from my thoughts, Christa. I look forward to your return...when the time is right for you. Best wishes and great blessings!!!

SNAP network said...

You are, indeed, a hero Christa! You'll be sorely, sorely missed!



David Clohessy
Executive Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790

Kay said...

Crista, your have been a great source of strength for many and you are to be commended! I also applaud you or knowing when it's time to take care of you... All best wishes!

Kay Goodnow
Lenexa, KS

Nisperos said...

Christa, you are a hero to more than you know! Best of luck to you in your future endeavors. I very much hope that you will leave your blog up in some archived way. It is a great reference and great rebuttal to those who still "pass the trash" and still think it is more important to protect the privacy of those quietly let go than help victims. And, it's not just in Baptist churches, but in many many non-denominational churches (with staff often trained at Baptist seminaries or having attended nondenominational Christian colleges or universities) and also in many social services programs approved for government funds under faith-based initiatives who still think something like "well, you are always broadsided" and "we do all the background checks required". The state of Colorado, for example, has it's contractors do background checks before hiring, but we all know that criminal checks is the bare minimum and churches often protect their own. Your courage and documentation is a tremendous witness!

Anonymous said...

Hi and Good bye,
Just when some are taking a more serious look on these happenings:

Vienna Presbyterian Church decided to acknowledge the church's failures in handling reports of sexual abuse by a youth ministries director


"GuideOne Insurance ...lawyers typically want to shape a church's response based on questions of intent and legal responsibility"

vs

"the church balked at the idea of defending potential lawsuits by invoking the two-year statute of limitations or raising questions about the sexual histories of women who might file claims."

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Christa. You brought this horrible problem to my attention. I had no idea it was so deep and evil within the SBC. I had no idea our leaders were so complicit in hiding it while victims suffered. They have shown their true heart and it is a dark place. My prayer is that people will stop supporting such an institution and it will die. I pray they will find true Christian fellowship with believers who protect those who are harmed by "professing believers" who are really evil predators.

Lydia

Valarie said...

I'm wondering...during the time Christa will not be updating her website about preacher predators...what other sites are a good source?? I'd like to stay informed.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Valarie said...

I'm wondering...during the time Christa will not be updating her website about preacher predators...what other sites are a good source?? I'd like to stay i

Mojoey over at Deep Thoughts keeps a running count of preachers/priest etc. caught in this sort of thing.
I think Christa checked his website too. http://mojoey.blogspot.com/

John (JEB)

LuciWest said...

I will certainly miss your blog posts. You are a tenacious hero full of courage. You certainly deserve to walk in private for a while.
Thank you for all that you have done for the abused, their families and friends and for those who may have been kept safe due to your efforts.

Best wishes,
Luci Westphal
(producer, "All God's Children")

Jim said...

Christa, you are an authentic modern-day prophet, calling religious authorities to take a good look at themselves and their actions. Like the prophets of old, your words have been met with hostility and attacked with half-truths and outright lies. Rest a while. Enjoy the beauty around you and the stimulation of academic pursuit. Then, I pray, you will reenter the battle, refreshed and reinforced. The work that you have begun will prevail. When I was a child we sang in Sunday School, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world...." We never learned "Jesus loves the Baptist leaders, all those stained with children's tears...." One day, in God's good time, Baptist leadership will experience the justice of a sovereign God.

Anonymous said...

Christa,

Thank you for all you do and have done. I hope you see this. There is hope and there are are a few stories of some places trying to get it right (though this story is not a bapist church). This church is at least trying to do the right thing and ignoring what the insurance company told them to do:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1385782/Insurance-company-tells-church-Dont-admit-abuse--youll-pay-compensation.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/vienna-presbyterian-church-works-to-overcome-revelations-of-sexual-abuse/2011/03/30/AF3hNxQC_story.html

Christa Brown said...

GuideOne, the same insurance company that insured Vienna Presbyterian Church, also insures many thousands of Baptist churches. And, consistent with GuideOne's advice to Vienna, we have seen over and over again that most Baptist churches and most Baptist denominational leaders will deal with clergy sex abuse from the perspective of avoiding legal obligation for the institution rather than from the perspective of moral obligation to the wounded and of doing what's right. When did so many religious leaders get so messed up? Just because you can get away with something under the law doesn't make it morally right. Duh. If anyone should understand this, you might expect that it would be religious leaders, but sadly, they often seem to be the most resistant. Indeed, with Baptists, what we have seen is that, rather than using faith-based principles to do what's right, they flat-out use religious doctrine -- local church autonomy -- as a rationalization for doing what's wrong and for avoiding moral obligation.

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful for you and what you have accomplished, the light you have shone on the horrific problem of clergy sexual abuse and the coverups that accompany it. I don't know how you have persevered for as long as you have. Thank goodness you did though. It will always amaze me how God brought us together. Please take care of yourself. I wish you nothing but goodness and will keep you in my prayers.

Kaye Maher

Mark said...

Christa, you've been a tremendous blessing to me since the first moment of contact we made several years ago. Thank you for your incredible courage to speak out for victims of sexual abuse and violence. Your courage gave us encouragement to speak. And that is the greatest gift I've every received: The blessing of finding my own voice and using it for good. You are a s-hero of mine!

Here's a favorite blessing for you:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done!

Edvar said...

Seus textos abriram meus olhos. Muito obrigado!)

Valarie said...

This is an article from our local paper. The advocacy group is secular. How I wish our faith groups(particularly Baptists) understood this as well.


http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/jun/17/guest-column-no-room-for-excuses-in-child-sexual/

Mary said...

Its so sad to know that you go.

NCM said...

Christa -

I'm so sorry to see that you are going. I have just found your site after surviving 8 years of sexual and emotional abuse and manipulation by my former youth pastor at a certain large Baptist church in southern Louisiana. I wish you weren't going but can understand that its emotionally hard to talk about. I only wish I had found you sooner.

I was the victim of a terrible man whose church employer helped cover it up for him and let him quietly leave - with my life still in his manipulative hands. i struggle today with my religion as a result, but ultimately know that God was nowhere in that man. I fear for other young girls in these churches, left vulnerable by broken family situations, who too can be manipulated and coerced into these terrible situations. These anonymous girls are in my prayers and I hope to be a strong example of survival in my future. For now, I am just focused on trying to heal.

Thank you for raising awareness about this problem intrinsic within the church system. You will be forever blessed, I am sure. I hope to make just one tenth of good out of what has happened to me.

Sincerely,

NCM in LA

Mojoey said...

I feel the silence in your absence. I feel it deeply. I wish you peace. Stop by and say hi sometimes.