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 the first showing in late May 2020.

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.

 
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“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."


Doreen Der-McLeod

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.

2.  QUESTIONS 

(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.

 
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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.

 
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HELD BY THE LIGHT GLASS ART

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                                 AFTERWORD

The purpose of this website has been simply to share highlights of our healing journey.  It is provided 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. It is meant to share what we did -- it is not written to tell you “what you should do.” Every community will need to make its own choices about how to initiate and develop a healing process, but we hope this website will give meaningful ideas and inspire you with hope.

If you have been helped by this website, we hope you will share this freely with any person or organization who might also benefit from it. A number of resources from this website have already been given to Anglican and Roman Catholic communities in the United States and Canada. Even though we are Presbyterian, we know that much of our experience is transferable ecumenically.

This website was specifically created as a companion to the “Our Healing Journey” video, which you have already seen.  That video was funded by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We hope you will tell others to watch the video as a quick way for them to see and grasp the possibilities of healing.

Healing Committee

Donaldina Cameron House

Presbyterian Church in Chinatown

 

OUR HEALING JOURNEY


Presbyterian Church in Chinatown

925 Stockton Street

San Francisco, CA 94108

Donaldina Cameron House

920 Sacramento Street

San Francisco, CA 94108

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