OUR HEALING JOURNEY
One Faith Community's Response to Clergy Sexual Abuse
Cameron House and the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, San Francisco
Did you recently watch our Healing Journey video, which invited you to this site? The purpose of this website is to provide further detail and background for church leaders who feel a healing process might be valuable in your own faith community.
The Healing Committee of Cameron House & the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown
OUR HEALING JOURNEY AT A GLANCE
Ten years after our popular pastor had retired, public allegations began to surface accusing him of a long history of sexual abuse of boys and young men during his ministry. Because he then resigned from the Presbyterian denomination, there was never an adjudication as to his guilt or innocence, leaving the church divided and distraught.
Fifteen years later, we began a formal, intentional healing process, to focus on both the primary victims and "secondary" victims, particularly our own faith community. We were committed to seeking out the truth and accepting whatever risks that process might bring.
This website is to share some of the highlights of this exceptional healing journey. We provide it for any faith community that has experienced clergy sexual abuse and would like to learn what a healing process might look like when taken seriously. At the beginning, we had no idea what might happen from that critical healing decision --- now, we are proud to share what did.
If you have not seen Our Healing Journey video, we invite you to begin there.
Click on the link directly below.
TESTIMONIALS TO THE VIDEO
The following testimonials have been received by Cameron House or Healing Committee members through social media or direct email since its first showing. You are welcome to show our video to everyone.
Thank you, I watched the video twice. The Healing Task Force and survivors did incredible and difficult work which is impressive for its depth and scope. I had not thought previously about the congregational and secondary victims'
need to be part of the healing process. Hope this is being shared with other denominations. "If you could just listen," survivor to thriver, creation of a healing space for remembering and learning.... Such important lessons.
I'm going to share this video and website with our catholic archdiocese in Seattle. While many programs have been enacted to heal and prevent further abuse, your model is so powerful, that I need to share it. Mahalo for your work.
I watched your documentary earlier this morning. I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I watched and listened. What a powerful, moving, beautiful, inspirational and hopeful journey. What courage the victims/survivors/thrivers exhibit! My heart is full of love for you all. Deep bows and love to you. Thank you. And I will share with all my retired Clergy beloved women friends. Two Presbyterian, one UCC, one Rabbi, their spouses (and a partridge in a pear tree.)
This documentary will continue to ripple out and make waves of healing and necessary changes.
“In facing our own darkness, we prevent darkness or evil from having the final say and defining us as victims. What has been hidden and unspoken for so many years can now be openly discussed.
In naming the unspeakable act of sexual abuse, we as victims and as a community have begun to heal and are being transformed."
Former Cameron House Director
RESOURCES FOR FAITH COMMUNITIES
After you have viewed the "Our Healing Journey" video, the resources below are available immediately if you would like to go deeper into understanding the actual steps of our healing experience. Links are provided below in the next section.
1. A companion 40-page book entitled "Highlights of an Intentional Healing Journey" is provided to give you details and elaboration on our healing journey. This book will give you a very comprehensive appreciation of the healing challenge.
2. The second document "Questions (With No Easy Answers)" provides a deeper, thoughtful reflection on issues and dilemmas every faith community will face in working through the impact of clergy sexual abuse and its aftermath.
3. The third resource is our most "historic" document, which is the original "Final Report of the Healing Task Force." This 53-page report presented the findings and recommendations that our Healing Task Force identified after nearly two years of extensive collaboration with abuse survivors and the local church community.
1. HIGHLIGHTS OF AN INTENTIONAL
The purpose of this 40 page book is simply to share at a very practical level the key, critical events in our healing journey. These events occurred over two decades. This book was written not to tell you "what you should do," but simply to share what we did. Every community will need to make its own choices about how to initiate and develop a healing process. We hope our book will give meaningful ideas and inspire you with hope.
(WITH NO EASY ANSWERS)
A CONGREGATION MIGHT ASK
ABOUT CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
This resource is not for everyone. But if you do initiate a formal healing process within your faith community, you will come upon most of the hard questions addressed in this very thoughtful presentation. Our (not so easy) answers will be invaluable to you.
3. FINAL REPORT OF THE HEALING TASK FORCE
To begin the healing process, a Healing Task Force was appointed by the Cameron House Board of Directors and given authority to freely seek the truth, whatever it might be. After almost two years, the Healing Task Force concluded its activity and on November 25, 2003, issued this 53-page “Final Report” to the Cameron House Board of Directors. The Report chronicled the abuse experience of victims (which then numbered 19) and unequivocally supported their allegations. Seven major recommendations were also presented, which have guided our healing efforts ever since.
THE SAFE PLACE THAT BECAME UNSAFE
A major feature article was published in Alta Magazine in early 2021 detailing the Cameron House clergy sexual abuse scandal and healing story. The article includes many personal interviews with victims-thrivers that provides an in-depth narrative and insight into our healing journey. Click on the link directly below to read this painful but inspired article.
WELCOME TO THE HEALING CHAPEL
When you visit Cameron House, you will see that our Chapel has been transformed into a place of remembrance and reflection.
A bronze sculpture and two poems by survivor Noel Chun are prominent, personal expressions of the healing milestones he shared with a steady group of survivors who met together for many years.
A second art piece made from etched glass, entitled “Held by the Light” was designed by the partners and spouses of those abused by Dick Wichman. Wanting to express their own emotional experience, they created the etched translucent woven piece embroidered with the Chinese characters of love, nurture and heart.
To learn more about any of these symbolic expressions, click on any of the links as they appear below.