The #MeToo Reckoning: Facing the Church’s Complicity in Sexual Abuse and Misconduct

By Ruth Everhart. IVP Books, 2020. 264 pages. $17/paperback; $16.99/eBook.

The #MeToo Reckoning is vital reading for Friends concerned with the well-being of our meetings, schools, and other Quaker institutions. A veteran Presbyterian minister, the author testifies movingly and convincingly as to how religious communities too often fail to support survivors of sexual abuse, and provides a path toward radically changing this reality.

While the author is speaking to her own religious community because, she says, she feels “a call to clean the dirt in my own house, rather than to chastise my neighbors,” the book is entirely relevant to Friends. It provides guidance in diagnosing the problems with standard responses to sexual abuse, and also in concretely explaining how we can choose to transform our responses to make them congruent with our values and love for one another. In every chapter, one is tenderly grounded in the message to become “a safer and braver space.”

The #MeToo Reckoning is both a memoir of Everhart’s ministry, which begins with her own experience as a survivor, and a sharing of the skilled labor of a lifetime in ministry. Everhart speaks about how, in religious communities, confidentiality sometimes turns into secrecy, nice language can be weaponized, inadequate or misleading policies fail to protect the most vulnerable, and mishandling of abuse allegations leads to the destruction of our sacred spaces. She calls on us to lament with one another the wounds we share, and work fearlessly to heal those wounds and prevent further harm.

This minister’s vision for a justice-seeking and truth-telling community includes an incredible recollection of women in the Bible, the teachings of Jesus, and an interpretation of the body of the church. It teaches trauma-informed pastoral care that excites, affirms, challenges, and brings hope.

Accessible and highly relevant, The #MeToo Reckoning will benefit meetings as a selection for reading groups concerned with pastoral care and family life.

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