LETTER OF AFFIRMATION FROM THE FIRST CHURCH SERVICE OF SPIRITUAL RECONCILIATION AND HEALING HOSTED BY THE WILMOT UNITED BAPTIST CHURCH, NS, CANADA ON FEBRUARY 15TH 2004.
“On February 15th, 2004, I had the privilege of attending a “Service of Healing” for survivors of abuse and sexual assault, in a beautiful little Nova Scotia country church, the Wilmot United Baptist Church. I am writing both as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and as Chair of S.O.A.R. (Survivors of Abuse Recovering) a local registered non profit organization, who’s purpose is to support survivors of child sexual abuse as they seek to heal the wounds of their past. Our primary service is peer counselling, however we also bring education and awareness to the community. I wanted to commend your church for having the courage to address an issue which is still so taboo in society in general and which is almost never mentioned in churches in such a helpful and open way. The service was conducted by Licentiate Marion Duncan. This was the fist occasion I had to meet and hear Ms. Duncan speak and I was very impressed with the tact, sensitivity and compassion she displayed throughout the service.
Those who have been victims of abuse, particularly sexual abuse, often feel a great sense of shame. This sense of shame is only heightened and reinforced by societies silence and the general sense of “lets not talk about that” that most people have towards the subject of abuse in general and specifically in regards to childhood sexual abuse. Unfortunately, for a victim to find true healing they need to understand and accept that what happened to them was wrong and that the responsibility and indeed the shame for that deed belongs to their perpetrator and not to them. I feel this service did much to address this need and I believe it was one of the best examples of the true meaning of spiritual healing that I have seen from any church in a very long time. It is never easy taking the path less travelled or being among the first to publicly address a particularly sensitive and overwhelming issue in our society, however it is only because people like those of the Wilmot United Baptist church are willing to do so, that change is ever brought about.
Within S.O.A.R. there are many individuals who have turned away from the Church because the clergy failed to support them or even blamed them for their abuse or who were told by a clergy person that it was better not to talk about such things “forget about it, it is in the past”. Those who attended this service spoke of it so highly that I heard many of those who have turned away from the church say “maybe I will go next time.” It is a start. What this says to me is that a small group of brave people (visionaries perhaps!) in a little church in Wilmot N.S. know something that the heads of today’s churches seem to not know, “in order for our churches to become more relevant in today’s world it is essential that they become more relevant in the lives of today’s people.” And unfortunately according to the latest statistics abuse is very relevant to all too many people these days.
On ;behalf of S.O.A.R. all survivors and myself, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to attend such a rewarding, meaningful and healing service. And would you please pass my thanks on to Ms. Duncan and those at the Wilmot United Baptist Church who had the wisdom to hold this service. I look forward to attending again next year and indeed hope this service becomes truly an annual event, as the need is so great.
LETTER OF AFFIRMATION RE: SECOND SERVICE OF SPIRITUAL RECONCILIATION AND HEALING HOSTED BY THE WOLFVILLE, NS, CANADA, UNITED BAPTIST CHURCH ON JANUARY 2005.
“I would like to take this opportunity to write a letter of recommendation for Marion Duncan. I became aware of the wonderful work being performed by Marion in January 2005 when during a religious service at the United Baptist Church in Wolfville, the minister there introduced Marion and invited interested parishioners to attend a reconciliation service being offered by Marion the following wee. I was excited to see that someone in the church was courageous enough to deal with issues of abuse in such an open and respectful fashion. I was also encouraged to see that someone within the church ministry wanted to look not only at the secular ramifications of abuse, but was prepared to acknowledge and work with individuals on a spiritual landscape as well.
As a human service professional, a parent and a woman, I have struggled to find a secular or spiritual counselor who is able to deal with my family’s experience of abuse. I searched consistently for someone to listen to our needs and support the healing necessary but, until I discovered Marion’s ministry, I was unsuccessful. I have been impressed with Marion’s ability to work from a place of real understanding. She has been able to maintain her professionalism while addressing sensitive and painful issues that could have unraveled less skilled practitioners. Yet she has demonstrated the grace and decorum of a seasoned counselor and minister.
I have consulted Marion for a little over a year, and her counsel has always been born of Godliness, sound reference to scripture and the affirmation that, together in Christ, the future we find will be characterized by strength to persevere, survive and thrive.
Marion is providing a service that I have not found elsewhere and I am thankful that she is sharing herself with those most vulnerable, marginalized and (in most cases) invisible within our church communities.”