General Synod Reflection: Linda Petrucelli

The United Church of Christ often refers to itself as a church of “Firsts” —the first ordained African-American pastor, the first foreign mission society, the first woman pastor, to name just a few.

 

At its 31st General Synod, the UCC once again broke new ground and became the first organization in the United States, religious or secular, to publicly proclaim its “solidarity with, acceptance of and support for” adult survivors of child abuse and neglect.

 

I was part of the committee that was assigned to this resolution that calls upon all settings of our church, especially congregations, to give witness to the unmet needs of adult survivors of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).

 

The educational intensive that preceded our committee work presented eye-opening statistics: the rate of childhood abuse and neglect is ten times as high as the incidence rate for all forms of cancer combined; and one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before age 18.

 

As both clergy and laity, we must name these deeply uncomfortable truths and become allies to the survivors who pray in our pews. We must also become more informed and adept at hearing and believing the voices of survivors, recognizing the signs of trauma in families and offering a safe refuge.

 

- Linda Petrucelli, Hawai‘i Island