There is no turning back

I clearly remember my first thought walking into the fellowship hall at Steinmann Mennonite Church. I was very excited to see almost 200 people from several different faith communities ready to spend a day discussing and learning about the persistent and perplexing issue of sexual violence in faith communities. I was also impressed with the introduction to the guest speakers. Keynote speaker Marie Fortune has been a driving force behind church responses to sexual violence since I was a toddler (and I’m not that young). I can’t imagine how hard her work would have been four decades ago. Tenacious visionaries like Marie Fortune are the modern prophets who have delivered us to the day when we can pack a meeting hall full of church leaders to talk openly and call for action on an issue that has been ignored, denied and suppressed for far too long.

I think that the team at the Anabaptist Learning Workshop also deserve kudos for their part in convening this important, and I would even say momentous, event. This marks a turning point for MCEC in my mind. We cannot go back to the days of ignorance, denial and suppression – though there is undoubtedly inertia still to be overcome. It is clear that each of us has a part to play in addressing sexual violence in our churches and that we can no longer leave sexual violence survivors and their closest allies to push things forward alone. The big question on my mind now is: Where do we go from here? We need to create a concrete action plan for moving forward that engages people across denominations and generations. There is no turning back: let’s plan the next steps and continue moving forward.

Marie Fortune and Emily Cohen

Marie Fortune (left) and Emily Cohen (right) are trainers from FaithTrust Institute