abuse is like a highly contagious and festering wound, says Rev.
Cari Jackson '79. She is committed to stopping its spread and has
introduced a healing process she calls ministering to ministers.
(and others in the helping profession) are most likely to become
emotionally depleted, she says, as they are constantly giving of
themselves and seldom take time out for renewal.
grew up in churches in which I saw ministers engaging in actions
of spiritual abuse, such as taking out their frustrations on others
and relating with congregants in inappropriate waysemotionally,
sexually, and financiallybecause of issues they werent
dealing with in their own lives, she says. The God I
serve is big enough to handle my anger, doubts, and fears, but many
ministers believe that they shouldnt have negative feelings
or that they should be able to handle it all because
of whom they are. When these feelings are stuffed, religious or
spiritual abuse can occur. I saw people become so wounded that many
of them left the church and never returned.
Through her interdenominational ministry at New Yorks Union
Theological Seminary, where she earned a master of divinity degree
and serves as interim seminary pastor, Jackson has established Caregivers
Renewal. There, professional caregivers can talk about their struggles.
one of the half-day retreats, a rabbi said he was thrilled that
we were doing this and wanted to work with us in reaching other
Jews. The spiritual power of lamentfor ministers to be able
to talk about issues of grieving and sorrowis very important.
Congregations need to see (that their ministers) are human,
her mission continues to grow. As additional funding is acquired,
Jackson hopes to expand the ministry into a broad range of self-care
support services, including addiction/compulsion recovery programs
and internet discussion groups that can be accessed by professional
my prayer that by creating safe spaces in which ministers and other
professional caregivers can talk about the challenges of our work,
we can renew, replenish, restore, and rejuvenate in order to continue
our ministries in healthy ways. The quality of our service must
foster healing and wholeness in peoples lives.