Are you going to be at convention next week? Our Stories Untold—also known as Barbra, Hilary, and myself—is extremely excited to be present in a large way at the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City June 30 through July 5. We want you to be aware of our involvement and to feel free to come say hi, attend our seminars and services, and share your stories with us.

Barbra Graber, Rachel Halder, and Hilary Jerome Scarsella at the Dove's Nest conference in November 2014.

Barbra Graber, Rachel Halder, and Hilary Jerome Scarsella (so you can put faces to the names!)

The following is a schedule of OSU sponsored events as well as those in which we are participating with our affiliates Pink Menno, SNAP-Menno and Safe Church. The person involved is written in parenthesis after the event information.

OSU Sponsored Events at Kansas City:

TUESDAY, JUNE 30:

5 PM Opening Worship Service: “Bound Together, Together Free” with Pink Menno, led by Patrick Ressler, held at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral (across the street from the convention center) (Rachel)

WEDNESDAY, JULY 1:

11:30 AM to 12:30 PM “Engendering Complexity: a Panel on Gender, Identity & Empowerment” at Pink Menno’s “On the Way: Dis-Covering Diversity” Symposium in Kansas City Convention Center, Room 2504B (Rachel)

3:30 to 4:30 PM “Queerness and Christianity” at Pink Menno’s “On the Way: Dis-Covering Diversity” Symposium in Kansas City Convention Center, Room 2504B (Rachel)

THURSDAY, JULY 2:

On the Way to Trauma Healing and Resilience ” — Day 2 of “On the Way: Dis-Covering Diversity” Symposium in Kansas City Convention Center, Room 2504B

10 AM – 11:30 AM “Exploring the Misunderstandings: Sexualized Violence 101” Kansas City Convention Center, Room 2504B (Barbra, Rachel, Hilary, with Jennifer Yoder)

1 – 2 PM Survivor Support Group, Citiscape Room at the Alladdin Hotel, 1215 Wyandotte St. (.2 miles from the convention center) (Barbra/SNAP leaders facilitate) ***See below announcement about these meetings

2:30 – 4 PM “What’s to be done about John Howard Yoder?” Kansas City Convention Center, Room 2504B (Dr. Stephanie Krehbiel, with Barbra, Hilary, Rachel)

FRIDAY, JULY 3

1 – 2 PM SNAP Survivor Support Group meeting, Citiscape Room at the Alladdin Hotel, 1215 Wyandotte St. (.2 miles from the convention center) (Barbra/SNAP leaders facilitate)

3:45 – 5:30 PM  Learning Experience “Healing for Victims of Abuse by Church Leaders”–Carolyn Heggen with Hilary and others, Kansas City Convention Center, Room 2205

Sexual abuse causes great emotional and spiritual harm to the victim. Those close to the victim, those called to deal with the fallout, and the entire church are also injured. This seminar will explore ways the church can assist in the healing of victims and work toward prevention.

8:30 – 9:45 PM Service of Lament and Hope with MCUSA, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral sanctuary, across the street from the Kansas City Convention Center

SATURDAY, JULY 4

11:15 am – 12:15 PM “How We Survived” Seminar #21, Room 2215B (Barbra, Rae, Hilary )

As survivors and partners at OSU, we will talk about 1) how the experience of sexual violation as children in the context of a Mennonite community impacted our adult lives 2) what we found most helpful along the way that contributed to our healing.

1 – 2 PM SNAP Survivor Support Group meeting, Citiscape Room at the Alladdin Hotel, 1215 Wyandotte St. (.2 miles from the convention center) (Barbra/ SNAP leaders facilitate)

4:40 – 5:40 PM “Stop It Now!” Seminar #63, Room 2203, congregations enrolled in a year long program of prevention and education called Safe Church share their experiences (Barbra with pastors Ross Erb and Mike Metzler)

8:00 – 9:00 PM “From Loss to Transformation” — Closing Ceremony for Pink Menno’s “On the Way: Dis-Covering Diversity” Symposium in Kansas City Convention Center, Room 2504B (Rachel)

Other items to note:

  • Support Group Meetings in KC for Survivors and loved ones
    Please share and circulate!
    Have you ever, at any age, had a sexualized encounter that left you feeling shocked, shamed, or disempowered by anyone inside or outside the church? Did you then feel you must keep it a secret? Confidential meetings are being held off site in the CitiScape Room of the Aladdin Holiday Inn Hotel, 1215 Wyandotte, 1:00 pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 2, 3, and 4.  These private self-help meetings are facilitated by SNAP-trained survivors of sexual abuse and sponsored by the new Anabaptist-Mennonite Chapter of SNAP and www.OurStoriesUntold.com. SNAP (www.snapnetwork.org) is an independent and inclusive survivor’s organization whose mission is to “protect the vulnerable, expose the truth, and heal the wounded.” Meetings are open to victims/survivors of all genders and their loved ones. More info: text or call Barbra @ 540-214-8874.
  • Churchwide statement on sexual abuse
    Discernment Group members have submitted a statement addressing sexual abuse and prevention for consideration by the Delegate Assembly at KC2015 on Thursday, July 2.
    The statement, which is available online, acknowledges that the church has often failed to support those affected by abuse and to focus on teaching and supporting healthy sexuality. It names six actions each for congregations and church institutions, focusing on implementing policies, education and systemic/cultural change to help prevent future abuse.  The statement calls the Church to “resolve to tell the truth about sexual abuse; hold abusers accountable; acknowledge the seriousness of their sin; listen with care to those who have been wounded; protect vulnerable persons from injury; work restoratively for justice; and hold out hope that wounds will be healed, forgiveness offered, and relationships established or reestablished in healthy ways.”

Other events of interest to OSU in the Convention Schedule:

We may or may not support the content of these seminars but we encourage attendance in order for us to learn from and hear what others in MCUSA are saying about the issues we care about as well as to take opportunity to voice our unique perspectives from a queer and/or survivor’s vantage point concerning sexualized violence in the Mennonite Church.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 1:

2-3 PM — SCIENCE AND SAME-SEX ATTRACTION: IT DOES MATTER with Carol Lehman,  PhD.; DJ McFadden, M.D., M.P.H.  Room 2202

The presenters will discuss biology associated with same-sex sexuality and the psychological factors impacting gender identity.

TALKING WITH CHILDREN ABOUT SEXUALITY by Rachel Nafziger Hartzler, Room 2104B

For parents and other teachers who find it difficult to talk with children about sexuality, but want to be open and honest, and at the same time protect children.

4:40 – 5:40 PM — KEEPING CHILDREN AND YOUTH SAFE: AWARENESS AND PROTECTION by Dr. Jeanette Harder, Room 2206

 Is your church making progress toward meeting the recommendations of the 2013 “Protecting and Nurturing our Children and Youth” Resolution? Come and learn how to create an environment in your church and community where your children will be safe.

7:30 – 8:30 PM — CONFRONTING SEXUAL ABUSE: THE CASE OF THEOLOGIAN JOHN H. YODER by Rachel Waltner Goossen, Room 2103A

Historian Rachel Waltner Goossen will discuss Mennonite institutions’ responses to reports that Yoder– an influential pacifist theologian–sexually abused women at AMBS and elsewhere during the last several decades of the 20th century. Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS President, and Ervin Stutzman, MC USA Executive Director, will present “Discernment Group ” initiatives to address and prevent sexual abuse.

7:30 – 8:30 PM — CIRCLES OF SUPPORT AND ACCOUNTABILITY (COSA): MINISTERING TO TODAY’S LEPER by Clare Ann Ruth-Heffelbower, Room 2205

Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) works with ex-offenders re-entering the community. Its two guiding principles are “No more victims” and “No one is disposable.”

7:30 – 8:30 PM — DOES IT HAVE TO BLEED TO LEAD? by Anna Groff and Gordon Houser, Room 2101

Anna Groff, executive director of The Mennonite, Inc., and Gordon Houser, editor of The Mennonite magazine, will talk about the inner workings of The Mennonite, Inc.

7:30 – 8:30 PM — PASTORS ROUND TABLE by Terry Shue and Nancy Kauffmann, Room 2203

How are your congregations handling conversations about sexuality. What is working and what isn’t working?

THURSDAY, JULY 2:

2 – 3 PM — SISTER CARE: EQUIPPING WOMEN FOR CARING MINISTRY by Carolyn Heggen, Ph.D. and Rhoda Keener, M.S., Room 2205

  Mennonite Women USA’s Sister Care seminar’s core concepts and new 12 session DVD

9:45 AM — PASTORAL MISCONDUCT: POLICIES AND PROCEDURES by Terry Shue and Nancy Kauffmann, Room 
2209

In this seminar the newly updated documents from Mennonite Church USA will be summarized with attention given to the timeline for responses by all parties involved.

3:20 – 4:20 PM — DELVING INTO DIFFICULT DISCUSSIONS: WAYS TO HAVE OPEN AND HONEST CONVERSATIONS WITHOUT HARMING THE CHURCH by Julia Dunst, Room 2202

Explore various tools and resources which can be used by families, congregations and conferences to have meaningful and significant discussions without harming.

4:40 – 5:40 pm TEACHING JOHN HOWARD YODER RESPONSIBLY by Regina Shands Stoltzfus, Malinda Berry, Gayle Gerber Koontz, Justin Heinzkehr, Paul Martens, Room 2215B

A panel of professors reflect on how and why they have engaged the work of John Howard Yoder as they teach students to think critically about theology, ethics and peacemaking in light of his history of sexual abuse.

FRIDAY, JULY 3

9:45-10:45 AM — ON THE WAY TO RADICAL HOSPITALITY: A BIBLE STUDY TOWARD INCLUSION by Joanna Harader, Chris Parks, Zach Gleason, Room 2202

How the Bible supports inclusion and equality for women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer) people in the church.

9:45-10:45 AM — REDEEMING SEX by Deb Hirsch, Room 2502AB

Debra Hirsch is the author of the book, Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Spirituality and Sexuality. She explores ways that the Church’s current view of sexuality is far too narrow and is robbing many believers of the depth of relationship that God desires.

SELF-CARE, COMMUNITY CARE AND STAYING IN THE ROOM by Regina Shands Stoltzfus, Room 2204

 This seminar is about finding ways to live within the holy space of struggle and conflict until we achieve a new level of knowing ourselves and others.

1:30 – 3:15 PM — LAMENTING SEXUAL ABUSE IN PUBLIC WORSHIP, by Peter and Katherine Goerzen, Room 2102A

The culture of secrecy intensifies the suffering of victims and survivors. Providing a public space in worship to lament sexual abuse breaks these cycles, raises lament before God, and opens awareness.

SATURDAY, JULY 4

9:45 – 10:45 AM — A TALK-BACK WITH INCLUSIVE PASTORS by Megan Ramer, Room 2204

The number of congregations that welcome lgbtq people as full members in their faith community are growing rapidly. This workshop will offer an opportunity to hear from inclusive pastors as well as to ask questions and engage in conversation.

SEXUAL ABUSE AND THE CHURCH by Regina Shands Stoltzfus and Linda Gehman Peachey, Room 2103A

This seminar will focus on the proposed new denominational statement on sexual abuse as well as MC USA expectations, policies and procedures for church leaders. It will explore strategies for preventing sexual violation and addressing abuse when it occurs.

3:20 – 4:20 PM — TOP 10 THINGS PARENTS OF TEENS SHOULD KNOW by Kevin Wilder, Room 2205

Adolescence is becoming a different and longer experience in our culture. Kevin will use scripture, psychology and sociology to give 10 practical things parents should know about adolescents today.