Noel and Grizzly had a meeting with their former pastor today. Here is what Noel had to report, in her own words:
Griz and I are meeting with Mark Mullery today at 1:30. We’ll let you know how it goes.
That was not very productive. It was at least a little funny how it started because Grizzly asked what part of Noels Story they felt was a lie. Mark said he first wanted to say what the pastors felt they did wrong. Grizzly said that would be fine and we’d get to that but first lets talk about what might be a lie and so it went back and forth. Mark didnt want to talk about what might be a lie because he didn’t see how that could be productive so I shared my first two cents. I explained that it was a credibility issue. He was starting the afternoon with zero credibility based upon our past experience with him. He had the opportunity to gain credibility by communicating honestly about what he felt was wrong with the blog. He decided not to share what parts they are telling others might be lies and shared about how sorry he is that our baby had been raped and so we began with what he wanted. Giving up control must be difficult for these guys.
So Mark continued to say that the pastoral team had spent time evaluating what they had done what did they remember and how could they do it differently in the future. He never gave one specific example of one situation, one meeting,one conversation that they would handle differently he was just sorry. I suggested that one thing they may do differently is allow people to show some emotion without confronting them for sinning. Grizzly suggested that they lift their gag rule and allow people to talk about what happens to them. Mark said they were trying to protect the church, he clearly did not get this point. The counselor who was present tried to explain as well why secrecy was a bad policy but Mark just kept asking if he could explain it again. Mark just doesn’t get how secrecy makes things worse. I suggested they use real counselors which he said they are gathering information for referals now. Mark suggested that the ratio of child molestors to congregants was understandable for such a large church. It is a sinful world you know.
Grizzly made the most suggestions about what they could do differently, having a board of elders, advocates for the members, I cannt remember all the suggestions. Maybe he will post tonight and list some of them. The counselor suggested that the church seek outside help in setting up systems to prevent abuse. Mark assured the counselor that SGM had alread done that. When I asked who the outside counsel was he was not able to recall anyone in particular but said that the process had been set in place in the early 90s. When I referenced the legal cya of signing in children’s ministry workers he became a little defensive and assured us that SGM cares very much about children and not just legalities. There were several times that he bobbled and appologized that we felt this or that we felt that. At one point Griz shared that we had been deeply affected by some aspect of their ineptness and he said he was so sorry for that. The counselor then asked a question and Mark turned to the counselor and said that he didn’t agree with what Griz had just said. So why did he apologize? His apologies, all of them, clearly didn’t carry any real meaning if he was apologizing for our feelings or for things that he didn’t agree even happened. It was a very frustrating waste of time.
I believe he [Mr. Mullery] was trying to express how impossible the situation becomes when you have both the perp and the victim in the same church and you are trying to keep them both there and bring both families to a healthy place. He mentioned protecting the perps siblings etc. Unfortunately in a situation like that, the perp has sinned against God,victim and his own family as well. We asked why, since they have multiple perps with multiple victims does the church still not know who the perps are. He said they have taken measures to protect the families that needed to know. We then mentioned letters that he should have in his file written by moms whose children were put in harms way, we listed about 5 families by name that put their children in harms way and he just said that SGM cares very much about children and wants to protect them.
One other thing I wanted to mention about today’s apt. We told Mark that one of the issues with secrecy and gag orders, controling information may be that the pators do not hold the members in high enough esteem. We reiterated that these are GOOD people who want desperately to honor God. They are trustworthy with that information. They are not likely to persecute a perp only to protect their own family. I don’t understand why they can’t see how wonderful their members are.
I forgot to tell you the funniest part. When the meeting started Mark asked each of us if we had a recording device. You should have seen this counselor’s face.