A Pastoral Message

Blue Sunday Resources


One of the most challenging and heart-wrenching situations I’ve had to deal with as bishop is engaging in conversations with victims of child sexual abuse. While I am grateful that I have not had to engage in any conversations regarding recent abuse, the wounds and scars last for many, many years, and I have had conversations with victims who are working to recover from abuse that happened earlier in their lives. I have learned that it is never too late to begin the healing process, and I have learned that spiritual leaders and congregations can play an important role. One simple yet profound way to do this is by mentioning abuse in worship and including victims in public prayers. This can open the door to conversation, letting victims know that they can seek assistance in their faith communities. Given that research shows that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, it is highly likely that every one of our congregations has recovering victims among their membership.


Recognizing the prevalence of child abuse in our communities and families is one way to offer healing to those who may be suffering. One way that congregations can participate in this hard and holy work is by observing “Blue Sunday,” an effort to organize an annual day of prayer in congregations across the country, held this year on Sunday, April 24. I invite and encourage you to consider incorporating this concern in future worship services using resources found here.


Another resource for this work is Cherish All Children, an ELCA ministry that equips congregations to prevent child sexual exploitation. The heart of this ministry lies in congregations, where staff, leaders, and members pray, educate, connect with others, and act on behalf of children within and outside their congregations. Cherish All Children has tips, practical examples and a suggested structure for developing a Cherish All Children team. The website also has resources for safe church policies, prayer booklets, books, and Internet resources.


At the least, I would encourage you to include the following prayer from our new worship resource, All Creation Sings, in worship on Sunday, April 24, and/or other Sundays throughout the year:


Those who suffer abuse and violence:

Mighty Jesus, living Word, soothe the bodies, souls, and minds of the victims of sexual violence / domestic violence /        . Bring them peace, hope, comfort, and strength. Bring abusers to justice and prevent them from causing further harm. Stir up the heart of your church gathered here and around the world, that we value justice and healing over silence and shame. Show us the way to your righteousness, led by the voices of those who suffer. In Jesus’ name we pray.