New address: 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409.

Search Our Site

Page Navigation

Section Banner

Healing Workshop

45-Minute Workshop

Suggested Participants

  • Lay pastoral care leaders
  • Religious professionals

Goal

  • Explore questions and challenges
    of congregational healing

Materials

  • Copies of “Healing” for all participants
  • Chalice or candle and matches
  • Copies of Singing the Living Tradition for all participants

Preparation

  • Appoint workshop facilitator(s).
  • Distribute “Healing” and ask everyone read it before the session begins.

Session Plan

Gathering and Centering    5 minutes
Light the candle or chalice. Read “Life Prayers” by Ted Loder: Empower me to be a bold participant, rather than a timid saint in waiting, in the difficult ordinariness of now; to exercise the authority of honesty; rather than to defer to power, or deceive to get it; to influence someone for justice, rather than impress anyone for gain; and, by grace, to find treasures of joy, of friendship, of peace hidden in the fields of the daily you give me to plow.

Focusing       5 minutes
Review the goals of the workshop and the workshop process with the group. Invite participants to discuss and agree upon the group’s guidelines for openness and sharing. Say something like,
There is much potential for open sharing throughout this program. On many occasions we will invite participants to share what may be intimate material. Therefore, it is important that people speak only when they are comfortable; it is always okay to pass if people choose not to share. By establishing a norm of respect for each other and our expression within the group, we want to ensure safety and right relations for all participants.

Engage participants in discussing the value of respect and confidentiality in a group and the destructive effects of sarcasm and put-downs. Print your group’s guidelines for openness and sharing on newsprint, and post it as a reminder for each session.

Reflecting             30 minutes
In groups of three discuss:

  • What are your experiences of broken trust in this congregation?
  • How have you addressed these experiences?
  • Has there been any healing? If so, what created the possibility of healing?
  • In what ways did congregational structures and policies help or hinder the healing?

Closing       5 minutes
Have each group share one sentence about what they have learned. When everyone has had a chance to share, read “The Task of the Religious Community,” reading 580 in Singing the Living Tradition.
Extinguish the chalice or candle.

2-Hour Workshop

Suggested Participants

  • Lay pastoral care leaders
  • Religious professionals

Goals

  • Address the issues and challenges of sexual misconduct in a congregation
  • Explore its impact on individuals and the congregation
  • Learn about the dynamics/systems of misconduct

Materials

  • Copies of “Healing” for all participants
  • Chalice or candle and matches
  • Copies of Singing the Living Tradition
  • A slip of paper labeled with a letter from A to E for each participant (or A to G if you have a large group)
  • Newsprint and a marker

Preparation

  • Appoint workshop facilitator(s)
  • Distribute “Healing” and ask everyone to read it before the session begins.

Session Plan

Gathering and Centering       5 minutes
Light the candle or chalice. Read “Life Prayers” by Ted Loder: Empower me to be a bold participant, rather than a timid saint in waiting, in the difficult ordinariness of now; to exercise the authority of honesty; rather than to defer to power, or deceive to get it; to influence someone for justice, rather than impress anyone for gain; and, by grace, to find treasures of joy, of friendship, of peace hidden in the fields of the daily you give me to plow.

Focusing     5 minutes
Review the goals of the workshop and the workshop process with the group. Invite participants to discuss and agree upon the group’s guidelines for openness and sharing. Say something like,
There is much potential for open sharing throughout this program. On many occasions we will invite participants to share what may be intimate material. Therefore, it is important that people speak only when they are comfortable; it is always okay to pass if people choose not to share. By establishing a norm of respect for each other and our expression within the group, we want to ensure safety and right relations for all participants.

Engage participants in discussing the value of respect and confidentiality in a group and the destructive effects of sarcasm and put-downs. Print your group’s guidelines for openness and sharing on newsprint, and post it as a reminder for each session.

Reflecting and Exploring            85–105 minutes
Take some time to talk about the group’s experiences or knowledge regarding sexual misconduct by a religious professional. Ask the following questions:

  • Have you been in a congregation where this has occurred?
  • Do you know the story of a congregation where this has happened?
  • Do you think this is a significant issue that faith communities are addressing?
  • Is it a significant issue in Unitarian Universalism?
  • Has your congregation addressed this issue?
  • If so, how? If not, why?
  • Divide the participants into congregational constituencies by drawing letters from a hat. The groups are as follows:
    • A: Two to four board members, including a board president. Divide remaining people evenly among the following three groups, with extra people going to group E.
    • B: Supporters of the minister who have had good experiences with him and think he was treated badly
    • C: Critics of the minister who have had some bad experiences with him and think they have been treated badly. This group may include one or two alleged victims or parent/guardians of alleged victims.
    • D and E: Newcomers and other members unaware of what is going on
    • F and G: For a large group, consider also having a religious education committee and a worship committee.

Read aloud the following scenario:
Three months ago the minister of the congregation resigned following a series of closed Board meetings. There are rumors in the community that he had had sexual relations with several people in the congregation, but nothing official has been said. The Board is afraid that someone will file suit against the church and membership is starting to drop. The annual congregational meeting will be next month, and various groups are starting to make plans on what to do at this meeting.

Tell the groups that they have 45 minutes to plan what to do at the meeting. Be sure to share various key resources with all groups, such as chapters from this book, bylaws, and relevant policies. For the next 45 minutes, have the congregational meeting.

Now ask participants to suggest ways for the congregation to heal and keep a list on newsprint. Check near the end to see who the healing is for and if everyone’s needs are being met in some measure.

The group is likely to dwell on the authenticity of the different experiences but try to minimize this discussion in the interests of time. (In the interests of time, the facilitator can act as a special consultant and help the board president run the meeting.)

NOTE: If this scenario is close to the truth and the experience is still raw, allow for extra time and give people the opportunity to swap roles, so that they can play a role different from the one they have experienced if possible. Be sure to also have at least one professional therapist from outside the community help with the session.

Integrating       15 minutes
Ask the reassembled group to process the exercise with the following questions:

  • Is everyone okay?
  • How did you feel in your assigned roles?
  • What should we be doing differently?
  • What is the damage, who needs to heal, and how can we do this?

Closing      5 minutes
Have each group of three share one sentence about what they have learned. When everyone has had a chance to share, read “The Task of the Religious Community,” reading 580 in Singing the Living Tradition.

Extinguish the chalice or candle.

For more information contact safecongregations @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, April 22, 2011.

Sidebar Content, Page Navigation

 

Updated and Popular

Recently Updated

For Newcomers

Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.

Page Navigation