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Conflict Management in Congregations, Safe Congregations

Abuse and Interpersonal Violence

Benyei, Candace. Understanding Clergy Misconduct in Religious Systems: Scapegoating, Family Secrets and the Abuse of Power. New York: Haworth Pastoral Press, 1998.

This book explores why sexual misconduct occurs in religious systems and the psychology behind scapegoating, family secrets, and abusive power. The author includes proactive strategies for holistic change in congregations.

Ellison, Marvin M. and Sylvia Thorson-Smith, editors. Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice-Love. Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2003.

This book is a collection of essays by prominent theologians—Beverly Harrison, Judith Plaskow, Mary Hunt, Daniel Spencer, et al.—on the theme of sexuality, religion, and ethics for a new millennium. These analyses address the possibilities and demands of a justice-love ethic for individuals, faith communities, and society.

Fortune, Marie. Love Does No Harm: Sexual Ethics for the Rest of Us. New York: The Continuum Publishing Group, 1995.

The author discusses the process of ethical decision-making in intimate relationships. Starting with the premise that “love does no harm,” the author offers a set of guidelines that can assist people of all ages in making sexual choices.

Fortune, Marie. Is Nothing Sacred: When Sex Invades the Pastoral Relationship. San Francisco: Harper-San Francisco, 1989.

This is a case study of a church as an institution, as a community of faith, and as a family. It is the story of a pastor, six women who risked a great deal to come forward to tell the secrets of their relationship with him, of the many players who knew and did nothing or who knew and did something, and of a congregation that was broken apart by the actions of its pastor.

Fortune, Marie. Sexual Violence, The Unmentionable Sin: An Ethical and Pastoral Perspective. New York: The Pilgrim Press, 1983.

Part One examines the social and religious roots of sexual violence, and the consequences of silence. Fortune reflects on the lack of ethical attention on the problem, then focuses on the development of an ethical stance. Part Two provides a pastoral perspective, providing information useful to leaders attempting to respond to victim or offender. The author discusses the role of counselor and minister, offering pastoral tools for practical response. Fortune concludes with a strong argument to examine sexual violence in a broader context, moving beyond the initial response to individual victimization.

Hanna, Jeffrey W. Safe and Secure: The Alban Guide to Protecting Your Congregation. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 1999.

This comprehensive and practical guide helps identify risks and develop strategies for minimizing a congregation’s liability and ensure safety of its members and visitors. Hanna outlines issues, offers solutions to common problems, and helps leaders assess their congregations’ risks.

Herman, Judith. Trauma and Recovery. Reprint. New York: BasicBooks, 1997.

This book is a classic in the field of psychology, linking the public traumas of society to those traumas of domestic life. Herman presents a compelling analysis of trauma and the process of healing.

Goldfarb, Eva S. and Elizabeth M. Casparian Hopkins, Nancy M. The Congregational Response to Clergy Betrayal of Trust. Bethesda, MD: Alban Institute, 1992.

This booklet examines the ways everyone in a congregation is seriously affected when a minister betrays the trust of even a single member. This practical response to abuse includes the ways a congregation can work through the resulting conflict and confusion to emerge a stronger community.

Hopkins, Nancy and Mark Laasar, editors. Healing the Soul of a Church: Congregations Wounded by Clergy Sexual Misconduct. Bethesda, MD: Alban Institute, 1995.

Through a variety of essays, authors describe the nature of the damage to the whole congregation when clergy sexual misconduct occurs, from primary victims and secondary victims, to congregants and leaders, to successor ministers and the whole community. This book includes long-term healing strategies for damaged congregations that can restore them to healthy and safe faith communities.

Lebacqz, Karen and Ronald Barton. Sex in the Parish. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991.

This book is a realistic appraisal of the complex relationships between minister and congregants. It addresses not only the sexual problems of clergy, but also the issues that must be addressed by congregational leaders and judicatories in dealing with accusations against clergy.

Lebacqz, Karen and Joseph Driskill. Ethics and Spiritual Care. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2000.

This book seeks to untangle the complex ethical responsibilities and opportunities of pastors, chaplains, and spiritual directors who work to serve as guides to others on their spiritual journeys. Because this is a collaboration between ethics (Labacqz) and spirituality (Driskill) it raises professional ethics in ministry to new higher standards.

Oswald, Roy M. Clergy Self-Care: Finding a Balance for Effective Ministry. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 1991.

To help clergy restore the balance needed for effective ministry, the author integrates research and experience into a liberating perspective on the pastoral calling. This book includes self-assessment tools and self-care strategies to help ministers discover how imbalances in their physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual lives can diminish effective ministry.

Poling, James Newton. The Abuse of Power: A Theological Problem. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1991

The author is both a practical theologian and a pastoral counselor who works with survivors of sexual abuse and perpetrators. This important book examines the influences of gender, race, and class in the perpetration of sexual violence and the reality of this violence in its most common occurrence against women and children, particularly in the home or with trusted adults.

Rutter, Peter. Sex, Power and Boundaries: Understanding and Preventing Sexual Harassment. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.

This resource is a manual on sexual harassment: what it is, why it occurs, and how to prevent it. The author’s previous book, Sex in the Forbidden Zone: When Men in Power—Therapists, Doctors, Clergy, Teachers and Others—Betray Women’s Trust, provides a foundation for this book.

Staff of Volcano Press. Family Violence and Religion: An Interfaith Resource Guide. Volcano, CA: Volcano Press, 1995.

Acknowledging secular awareness and religious concerns, this book helps clergy understand family violence and respond appropriately. This collection of resources identifies how issues of diverse theology, ethnicity, age, and community particularize the prevailing characteristics of family violence.

Prevention and Education

Our Whole Lives comprehensive sexuality education curriculum series:

Casparian, Elizabeth M. and Eva S. Goldfarb. Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Grades 4–6. Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and United Church Board Homeland Ministries (UCBHM), 2000.

Participants learn about and discuss the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Participants will read It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberly, and examine topics such as values, communication, and decision-making. Each session includes a HomeLink—a homework activity for parents and children to complete together. Note: This program is designed for use with either grades 4–5, grades 5–6, or with one of the three grades separately.

Goldfarb, Eva S. and Elizabeth M. Casparian. Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Grades 10–12. Boston: UUA and UCBHM, 2000.

Using a comprehensive approach, this program helps senior-high youth gain the knowledge, life principles, and skills they need to express their sexuality in life-enhancing ways. Includes a parent orientation. Adaptable for classroom, after school, or youth group settings.

Kimball, Richard. Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Adults. Boston: UUA and UCBHM, 2000.

Using values, communication skills, and spirituality as starting points, this program explores sexuality issues of interest to adults of all ages. It  builds the understanding of healthy sexual relationships, affirms diversity, and helps participants accept and affirm their own sexuality throughout the life cycle. This is adaptable for many formats.

Sprung, Barbara. Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Grades K–1. Boston: UUA and UCBHM, 1999.

Supports parents in educating children about birth, babies, bodies, and families. Following a Parent Meeting and Parent/Child Orientation, the eight class sessions engage children with stories, songs, and activities and include a weekly HomeLink—a homework project for parents and children to do together. Promotes dialogue between parent and child. Appropriate for use in classroom and home settings.

Wilson, Pamela M. Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Grades 7–9. Boston: UUA and UCBHM, 1999.

Presents a comprehensive approach to human sexuality in an age-appropriate manner. Based firmly on the values of respect, responsibility, justice, and inclusivity. Helps young people apply these values to their behavior and provides them with information and skills they can use throughout life. Includes a comprehensive parent orientation.

Hoertdoerfer, Patricia. The Parent Guide to Our Whole Lives: Grades K–1 and 4–6. Boston: UUA and UCBHM, 2000.

A session-by-session guide to what children will learn in an Our Whole Lives class for grades K–1 and 4–6. Helps parents answer tough questions about sexuality issues. If their child is not enrolled in a class, parents can teach Our Whole Lives K-1 at home with this guide and the Our Whole Lives K-1 curriculum.

Cobble, Jr. James and Richard Hammer. Risk Management Handbook for Churches and Schools. Matthews, NC: Christian Ministry Resources, 2001.

Risk management from a theological perspective is the purpose of this handbook that describes caregiving leadership and safe, caring environments. This book includes a comprehensive set of risk management resources for churches and schools with helpful safety and liability checklists.

Friedman, Edwin H. Generation to Generation: Family Process in Churches and Synagogues. New York: Guilford Press, 1985.

In this volume, Friedman applies the concepts of systemic family therapy, along with his unique experience as rabbi and practicing therapist, to the emotional life of congregations and their leaders.

Hammer, Richard R., Steven W. Klipowicz. and James F. Cobble, Jr. Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse in Your Church Program. Matthews, NC: Church Law and Tax Report, Christian Ministry Resources, 1993.

This four-part resource—guidebook, training manual, video, and audiotape—addresses a most critical and moral problem facing congregations today. These resources show congregational leaders how to implement an effective prevention program to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse in their congregation.

Hoertdoerfer, Pat and William Sinkford, eds. Creating Safe Congregations Workbook: Toward an Ethic of Right Relations. Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1997.

This Unitarian Universalist resource tackles the problem of recognizing, addressing, and responding to interpersonal violence in our congregations and communities. This workbook offers a variety of resources for examining clergy misconduct, peer harassment, and child abuse in the congregational setting.

Rendle, Gil. Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences. Bethesda, MD: Alban Institute, 1999.

This handbook provides materials on how to foster thriving, creative congregations despite differences in age, race, culture, gender, theology, and politics. It includes leadership instruction, training, visual models, sample covenants, small-group exercises, and plans for meetings and retreats.

McClintock, Karen A. Preventing Sexual Abuse in Congregations: A Resource for Leaders. Bethesda, MD: Alban Institute, 2004.

This comprehensive resource demonstrates that sexual abuse in congregations is preventable and gives clergy and lay leaders the tools they need to prevent it. How to protect children and vulnerable adults, prevent sexual harassment by and of clergy, and strengthen clergy families are areas of risk and vulnerability addressed in this book.

Shelton, Michael. Secret Encounters Addressing Sexual Behaviors in Group Settings. Natick, MA: American Camping Association, 2003.

Although this book specifically deals with children and youth sexuality in a camp setting, there are materials, processes, and strategies of use to congregational staff and volunteers. This book discusses: creating an atmosphere that discourages inappropriate sexual behavior, screening staff, setting up a safety plan, talking with staff about safety, and dealing with sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and sexual assault.

Audiovisual Resources

Available from FaithTrust Institute (Formerly the Center for Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence).

A Sacred Trust: Boundary Issues for Clergy and Spiritual Teachers. A program of four training videos, 2003, 22 minutes each.

This series of four training videos is designed to increase the awareness of the need for healthy boundaries in clergy-congregant or teacher-student relationships and to provide clergy and teachers with guidelines for developing appropriate boundaries and self-care strategies. The accompanying facilitator’s guide includes background information, discussion questions, interactive exercises, and participant handouts.

Domestic Violence: What Churches Can Do. 2002, 20 minutes.

This one-hour program offers basic information on domestic violence and concrete ideas about how congregations can become involved in prevention and offer safe space for battered women. A study guide provides worship materials (Christian), background information, discussion questions, and practical steps for congregations on becoming involved in preventing domestic violence.

Broken Vows: Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence. 1994, two-part video—Part I: 37 minutes/ Part II: 22 minutes.

This two-part video presents stories of six battered women—Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant —and demonstrates how religious teachings have been misused to perpetuate abuse. The program includes ways religious communities can work proactively to end domestic violence. A forty-page study guide and a packet of awareness brochures completes this resource.

The Healing Years: A Documentary About Surviving Incest and Child Sexual Abuse. 2001, 52 minutes.

This video profiles three women through their journey of pain and despair from incest, and their incredible process of recovery as they finally work to end the cycle of incest and child sexual abuse for generations ahead. The video is accompanied by a study guide, developed by FaithTrust Institute, which addresses religious issues.

Bless Our Children: Preventing Sexual Abuse. 1993, 40 minutes.

This video and accompanying study guide are intended for Christian clergy, lay leaders, religious educators, and teachers who are interested implementing a personal safety curriculum to help prevent child sexual abuse.

Hear Their Cries: Religious Response to Child Abuse. 1992, 48 minutes.

This video, along with a companion study guide for discussion leaders, is intended for use in training sessions for clergy and lay leaders on recognizing and responding to child abuse. The goal of the videotape and study guide is to raise awareness among clergy and lay leaders of the vulnerability of children and the need to intervene at times on their behalf.

Not in My Church. 1991, 42 minutes.

This video depicts a docudrama that portrays the dilemma of one faith community when faced with sexual abuse by its minister. It is intended to help people deal with the problem of clergy misconduct involving sexual abuse in the ministerial relationship. A study guide for leaders includes additional information and discussion questions.


The Alban Institute
2121 Cooperative Way, Suite 100
Herndon, VA 20171

Childhelp USA
15757 N. 78th Street
Scottscale, AZ 85260

Christian Ministry Resources
P.O. Box 2301
Matthews, NC 28106

Church Mutual Insurance Company
3000 Schuster Lane
P.O. Box 357
Merrill, WI 54452

FaithTrust Institute (CPSDV)
2400 North 45th Street, #10
Seattle, WA 98103

National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
330 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20447

Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing
304 Main Avenue, #335
Norwalk, CT 06851

Stop It Now!
P.O. Box 495
Haydenville, MA 01039

Unitarian Universalist Online Resources

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