Donaldina Cameron House and the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, in San Francisco, announce the release of educational resources designed to help congregations deal with clergy sexual abuse.
The resources were developed based on decades of personal experience with this horrific issue after a white clergyman perpetrated sexual abuse upon three generations of Chinese American boys and young men. From 1947 to 1977, the Rev. F.S. Dick Wichman was executive director at Cameron House, a community center for youth, and pastor at the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown. Ten years after his retirement, stories began to surface about his long history of sexual exploitation.
As happens far too often, rather than face presbytery charges, Wichman renounced jurisdiction while continuing to proclaim his innocence. He died in 2007 without ever taking responsibility for what he’d done.
The impact of the abuse continued to weigh upon the congregation and the youth center. Families were divided. Victims were isolated and alienated in their pain.
In 2002, a courageous decision was made to step forward into truth telling, and a Healing Task Force was formed. Twenty years after starting this healing journey, the resources of this community of “wounded healers” are available to congregations facing similar instances of abuse.
The website ourhealingjourney.org features an 18-minute healing video and other resources, including:
- “Highlights of an Intentional Healing Journey,” a detailed documentation of activities and recommendations for individual and community healing
- “Questions (With No Easy Answers) Congregations Ask,” a theologically based reflection on issues faith communities face when working through the impact of clergy sexual abuse and its aftermath
- “Final Report of the Healing Task Force,” findings and recommendations the Healing Task Force identified in two years of extensive collaboration with abuse survivors.
As Doreen Der-McLeod, former executive director of Cameron House, said, “In facing our own darkness, we prevent darkness or evil from having the final say and defining us as victims. What has been hidden and unspoken for so many years can now be openly discussed. In naming the unspeakable act of sexual abuse, we as victims and as a community have begun to heal and are being transformed.”