As the daughter of a Methodist minister, I am no stranger to witnessing harm in the world. In fact, because of the many people my father has served, I seem to have a keen eye for spotting it. One thing I have learned is that when you experience or perceive harm, it can be a very uncomfortable ordeal for all involved. Many times, we can become overwhelmed by the lengths that this harm extends to. As the world is so vast, this also means that it is easy for us to normalize harm since the issue seems too large or impossible to tackle.
Sometimes, harm even occurs in our churches and other ministry settings. In those types of instances, the harm can feel compounded because the parties involved are more than likely people that you know; maybe these people are even your friends. Once you have correlated a face with the harm, it becomes more difficult to accept that we cannot do anything about it. In the alternative, we have the unique opportunity to pursue a means of healing.
2 Corinthians 13:11 states:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
When I was a student in law school, we talked a lot about what the purpose of the law was. My favorite concepts were rehabilitation and restoration. In essence, the purpose was “to make one whole again.” GCSRW has submitted legislation to amend Resolution #2043 regarding Response Team Ministry for Sexual Misconduct; I believe that this work will promote restoration in order to work towards making congregations and people whole again.
The majority of the amendments to the legislation are to streamline language, to remove and update old information, and to highlight positive steps toward addressing the issue of sexual misconduct. For example, the joint statement by the Council of Bishops regarding the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements was cited. However, one of the most important parts of updating this legislation is to affirm the continuing need for Response Team Ministry.
The bishop and cabinet are mandated to “provide a process for healing within the congregation” or other ministry context as part of the supervisory response and judicial process. This process of healing begins with the Response Team Ministry which is composed of “persons with qualifications and experience in assessment, intervention, or healing.” Oftentimes, when something goes wrong, chaos is either immediate or imminent. Having a Response Team Ministry in place can help to curtail the chaos and seek to ensure that there are fewer long-term emotional and spiritual effects as a result.
Harm in general, and specifically sexual misconduct, is not going to disappear overnight. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to be ill-equipped for situations when it does arise. By amending and updating this legislation, we are affirming that Response Team Ministry is still needed as long as there is harm being done. When reviewing the overwhelming amounts of legislation for GC 2020, remember that we have a role to play in the healing of our church when it is broken. Help us to retain a mechanism that allows us to preserve wholeness.
Katrena Porter King is a Methodist minister's daughter who recently affirmed her calling to pursue the path of Deacon in the UMC. She is part of the Louisiana Annual Conference and has served on the Board of GCSRW for the 2016-2020 quadrennium. Katrena also co-chairs the Legislative Task Force with Bob Zilhaver.