If you’ve been hurt by the Church, St Luke’s wants to say ‘Sorry’.
As part of an initiative called ‘Hearing the Hurt’, St Luke’s Uniting Church invites anyone from the community who’s been hurt by the church and who would like to hear a ‘Sorry’ from our part of the church to take part in receiving that word and, if you wish to, sharing your story. A public service of worship was held on Sunday the 18th of October 2015 in which the apology was given broadly, but small group and individual opportunities are also available for you to be heard and to receive our ‘sorry’. This is a local initiative – it is not official but it is heartfelt. We want to listen generously to you – to give you the opportunity to express your hurt without being judged or having to hear explanations or justifications. We want to say ‘sorry’ to you, regardless of our involvement in your being hurt, because as a community of Christians we grieve the difference between how the church is supposed to treat people and how it does treat people. From the careless forgetting of people at the edges of the congregation, to the power games and pettiness that can make community life unbearable; the egregious violations of trust that are at the centre of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, to the calculating victimisation of those who don’t ‘fit in’, there are myriad ways we as Christians inflict hurt on one another. Hearing the Hurt is about acknowledging that hurt – our receiving and our giving of it – as a step towards a community of faith that enacts and embodies the grace and forgiveness we proclaim God gives us. We at St Luke’s invite you to help us make this step by sharing your hurt with us.
There is a contact form below if you’d like to find out more about Hearing the Hurt, the small groups, or the one-on-one sessions with one of our ministry team members.
The following is from the Hearing the Hurt service:
Prayer of confession
This prayer is introduced with the statement of regret (sorry) from the congregation.
As Christ’s church, we have Christ’s word and example to teach us how to live as a reconciling community, yet often as individuals and as a church, we fail to live that reconciliation. In congregations large and small, in every denomination and around the world, we, and our sisters and brothers who claim the name of Christ hurt the people we are supposed to care for. To you who have been hurt by the church, whether by someone who is part of our St Luke’s congregation, or by another person or group that is part of the body of Christ, I say to you, I am sorry. I am sorry as a representative of this congregation, knowing how good people can do harm in their zeal to do good. I am sorry as a member of the clergy, knowing that we can treat the power we hold too lightly or use it selfishly and even abusively. I am sorry as a Christian, knowing that I and many others can confuse Christ’s call to grace and forgiveness with benevolence and indulgence.
I ask those who are members of St Luke’s to stand as you are able and say with me:
We, the members of St Luke’s, recognise our part in the hurt that has been caused by the church, and the obstacles in the church’s culture to dealing well with that hurt. We hear Christ’s call to reconciliation, and commit ourselves to being open to hearing when we hurt others, telling others when they hurt us, and working together towards reconciliation in Christ’s name.
Let us pray:
Gracious God, in silence we offer to you our regrets and fears, our guilt and our anger, our confession of all that is not as it should be in our lives.
Renew and restore us, we pray. Give us your grace that we may come to know your forgiveness for ourselves and share that forgiveness with others.
In Jesus’ name
Word of grace
In Christ, there is life. With Christ, there is freedom. Because of Christ, there is hope. Hear then the words of Christ to us:
‘Your sins are forgiven’.
Thanks be to God.
Grace and Peace to you,
Rev. James Douglas