Today I learned through an article in the Chicago Tribune that the church where I grew up is being served with a lawsuit related to allegations of child sexual abuse. This coincides with the releasing of a documentary on the topic produced by a childhood friend of mine, featuring stories from a number of folks beside whom I was raised. I’m sensing that it would be appropriate to share a public statement on the matter; so, here it is.
I’ve remain in touch with people on all sides of this story: those who are still a part of my former home church and want to staunchly defend it, those who are sharply critical of my former home church and would love to see its doors close for good, and basically every nuance in between–including those with no strong opinion one way or the other. I’ve shared conversations over the phone, at my office, online, and over coffee with different people who probably could not handle more than a couple moments in each other’s presence. As a result of this, I’ve learned that some have grown suspicious of my intentions and character, wishing I would “take a side” or “stand up for the truth.” I’m here for anybody who wants to talk; at the same time, I’m disinterested in demonizing or casting aspersions on whoever is perceived to be “the opposition.”
Peace doesn’t just happen; you have to make it. Life is complex, and life with others is messy. Stories like this push that inherent complexity to its limits such that a polarizing and reductively non-fact-based way of thinking is incredibly tempting. But the best of us have our demons, and the worst of us are not beyond redemption. My hope and prayer as this situation unfolds is that the facts are dealt with as squarely as they fall, and that everyone on all sides of the matter can move forward towards a better tomorrow, according one another the dignity to pursue that in ways that may diverge quite dramatically from the decisions we would personally make. Over the years, I’ve adopted an almost stereotypical, solutions-focused way of living a day at a time with instruction from the past and reference to the future. I hope I can be of service to those who are constructively and intentionally pursuing a tomorrow marked by peace, well being, and wholeness.