Wholeness After Betrayal

Restoring Trust in the Wake of Misconduct

Robin Hammeal-Urban

Jun/2015, 160 Pages, Paperback, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9780819231772



In the wake of misconduct by trusted clergy and lay leaders, members of congregations find themselves adrift. Often there are deep divisions within the church and open, direct, honest communication ceases. Wholeness After Betrayal offers an understanding of these dynamics and a process to help members take the first steps toward reconciling relationships with one another.

This specialized instruction is tested and proven, having been used effectively many times in a variety of congregational settings. It holds tremendous value for institutional healing, both immediately following misconduct or even decades later.

Robin Hammeal-Urban, J.D. is canon for mission integrity and training in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut and has worked with numerous congregations following the misconduct of trusted leaders. She lives in East Hampton, Connecticut.

“This accessible book is an exercise in effecting wholeness and right-relation. As such it is an invitation to more faithful participation in God’s mission of restoration. In it the reader will find helpful and clear actions the church can take to help heal individuals, congregations, and dioceses/judicatories after there has been a betrayal of trust. Robin’s clear step-by-step analysis and recommendations, especially with respect to processes of disclosure and truth telling, combined with powerful stories from her own experience as a church official, make this book a highly practical and at the same time readable resource.”––The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, PhD, Episcopal Church in Connecticut (from the Foreword)

"This book is an essential guide for congregations, bishops and lay leaders throughout the church and community. It contains clear examples of abuse of power, the great harm of that abuse and important ways to respond in pastoral and healing ways for victims and communities”––The Very Rev. Francis Fornaro, Interim President and Dean, Episcopal Divinity School

“For anyone doing the difficult work of helping parishes rebuild trust after betrayal, Robin Hammeal-Urban has provided an extremely helpful resource. She provides a well thought out and extremely practical step-by-step process for helping a congregation work through betrayal. This is a must read for anyone trying to help a parish rebuild after a breakdown of trust.”––David Olsen, PhD, Executive Director of Samaritan Counseling Center

“'As Christians we are called to bring secrets into the light,' Hammeal-Urban says. Indeed, this is true. Yet the work of truth-telling and healing in the aftermath of betrayal is work for which even well-trained, well-intentioned leaders can find themselves ill-equipped. The experience-honed, forthright guidance Hammeal-Urban offers in this book will inform and empower those who bravely choose to tell the truth and journey toward wholeness. Though Hammeal-Urban writes particularly for those in the mainline Protestant church in which she serves, her book is a gift to faith communities throughout the world."––The Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner, Canon to the Ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

“Hard as it is to believe, at some point every church will deal with abuse, whether individual or systemic. While the canons and guidelines are clear, there is limited guidance for communities on what to do when abuse occurs. This is the resource that fills that sizable gap providing wisdom, theology, guidance, and specific steps to move through broken relationships within congregations, reestablishing trust, and engaging the Holy One. Every church leader, lay and ordained, should read this book now and keep it close.”––Missy Morain, Director of Christian Formation for Children and Youth, St. Matthew’s Pacific Palisades, California

“Robin Hammeal-Urban understands faithful, caring, vital communities and therefore knows the deep consequences of betrayal that come with sexual or financial misconduct by those we have come to trust to lead us spiritually. She has understanding of, and compassion for, victims, offenders, and congregations. Her work is wise and practical as she sets out clear processes to deal with not only the complexities of misconduct, but the very human tendency toward keeping secrets because of not wanting to admit one has been deceived. I wish I had had this resource when I pastored to a betrayed congregation.”––The Rev. Dr. William M. Kondrath, congregational consultant and author of Facing Feelings in Faith Communities

“Robin Hammeal-Urban is a wise and astute companion colleague when rebuilding trust after betrayal. She is my first phone call when I’m consulting with a parish. Now that insight and good sense can flow to hundreds, maybe thousands of places to bring healing and restored hope. This is a must read for any judicatory staff person and anyone leading a congregation that has been betrayed.”––The Rev. Sarah J. Shofstall, consultant to judicatories and congregations, priest-in-charge of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, Ohio

“Robin Hammeal-Urban has long experience working for healing and truth-bearing in congregations after misconduct and betrayal. Wholeness After Betrayal charts a course toward renewed health and mission in such communities. Theologically grounded and spiritually attuned, this book is not only helpful and clear, it gives cause for hope in a troubled time. It belongs on the bookshelf of every leader in this era of profound change.”––The Rev. Ellen L. Tillotson, Missional Priest, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bristol, Connecticut

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