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#ChurchToo and Sexual Harassment Training


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/05/10

The Toronto Star looked at the #MeToo movements around the world, it is, now, impacting the Christian church more broadly with the hashtag: #ChurchToo.

An event organized by the Mennonite Churches of Eastern Canada is work to deal within the sexual harassment from within the Christian world. There was a training session in Kitchener, Ontario, by Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, where representatives of 10 denominations of Christianity attended the training in order to begin dealing with the sexual harassment happening within its own ranks.

Church Leadership Minister for the MCEC, Marilyn Rudy-Froese, stated, “It’s all over in our society. It’s not just happening in the movie industry, and it’s not just happening in the Catholic Church… It’s the work we all need to be doing: we need to be shifting our culture to be attentive to the voices and stories of victims.”

Fortune has been working in these areas for some time and, in fact, founded the FaithTrust Institute in the Seattle area, where she was a young United Church minister circa 1979. She wants survivors of sexual misconduct to come forward with their narratives of abuse.

“It’s harder — it’s not impossible but it’s harder — for institutions to ignore anymore,” she said. “That’s always been a challenge in addressing this issue, is they really don’t want to know and their knee-jerk reaction tends to be wrong in terms of institutional self-interest,” Fortune stated.

Rather than be one of the ones who have been ignoring the problem either passively or systemically, Fortune wants to move head first into this, where she recommends there should not be a fear of looking bad to the community.

But the emphasis should be on the prevention of sexual misconduct within the church in the first place with the construction of healthy bounds between staff and laity. Especially for those who are sexual predators, where these boundaries do not matter, there should be policy in place for identification, investigation, and punishment.

It should not be about fear of looking bad but about the dealing with the central issue of the criminals within social and, in these cases, churches needing to be dealt with swiftly. Fortune noted the importance of a transparent process for congregants in the midst of an investigation.

The training on that recent Friday is focusing on the prevention of some slipping through the cracks.

Rev. Darren Roorda, Canadian Ministries Director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, stated, “People in various levels of the church — women especially — are much more comfortable to say, ‘I have an issue with fill-in-the-blank,’ or ‘my history includes some difficulty or challenge or persecution’… People are much more apt to identify themselves. That comfort level is really, really healthy and good. We’re glad about that.”


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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