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Break the Silence Sunday church service offers healing for abuse survivors


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Break the Silence Sunday church service offers healing for abuse survivors

Guest Commentary by Andy CastroLang

April 28 was a unique Sunday at the church where I am serving right now.

It was Break the Silence Sunday, and for the first time in my memory, the entire Sunday worship service was dedicated to listening to, and believing, the victims of domestic and sexual violence. We prayed, and sang, and prayed some more for all those who suffered abuse or violence in their homes, in their churches or anywhere in their life.

There were many tears, and many gentle moments of communion with one another.

As one participant put it, “I never expected to receive solace in the church.”

Stations created for healing

There were five stations created in our worship space we hoped would allow people recognize their story and their pain, but also find comfort, and maybe even healing.

  1. There was a station with large flat rocks. They were to be marked with messages of hurt and of healing, whatever anyone needed to say. Those rocks are now a literal monument of hope and resilience, stacked on the Communion table of the church.
  2. There was a baptismal reflection station, for gently having one’s hands bathed in clean water, feeling the blessing of healing touch and support from the person who gently washed and then dried each one’s hands.
  3. There was a place to light a candle in silent prayer — for oneself or someone else.
  4. There was a “wall of prayers” where a person could write a prayer request, roll up the paper and stuff it into the wall. All these prayers were ritually burned and the smoke rose into the sky, freeing the prayers.
  5. There was a station to receive an anointing with frankincense scented oil on hands or head. Each person was gently reminded of their status as beloved and holy, and a beautiful creature of God.

The church, a safe place

All the music, all the prayers, all the people gathered there, were respectful and gentle and generous to one another.

It was a time of profound emotion. All of us were held in a reverent and holy way within the walls of the church. On that Sunday, the church was truly a “sanctuary,” a safe place, a refuge.

I am honored to have been given the opportunity to participate in this service of worship and healing. Wise women envisioned this service and brought it to birth. Within the faith community, it is still being acknowledged for its emotionally healing power.

If there is anyone who would like to use this service in their own faith community, I know the church would be glad to share resources with others. If you are interested, you may contact Jennifer at [email protected].

The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

Andy CastroLang
Andy CastroLang
Andy CastroLang is a recently retired pastor who joyfully served in the United Church of Christ. She is deeply committed to civil discourse between individuals and throughout our community; in interreligious conversation, private conversation, intergenerational conversation and, yes, even in political conversation. She has been a supporter of FāVS News since its inception because she supports this creative effort at thoughtful community conversation.

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Paul Graves
Paul Graves
13 days ago

Andy, I just read your commentary on what sounds like a wonderful healing moment in your congregation on April 28. Thank you not just for your article, but for helping create that safe space for victims of domestic violence.
During the recent United Methodist General Conference in Charlotte, NC, one of our women bishops preached about the silence of the church when it comes to domestic violence. It was a master class in preaching. Bishop Easterling was exceptional. I would be glad to forward the video link to you if you are interested. I would need your email. 🙂

11 days ago
Reply to  Paul Graves

I’d enjoy hearing it , Paul!

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