The Impact of Spiritual Abuse on Worship
In May, 1999 a weekend meeting was held for alumni and their parents from Mamou Alliance Academy. The denomination (The Christian and Missionary Alliance) planned the weekend, and included a Sunday morning worship service. This e-mail was written to those planning the service in an attempt to help them understand the legacy of spiritual abuse and how spiritual abuse impacted our perceptions of the worship service.
Here are the thoughts I wrote on the Sunday morning time. These thoughts reflect my struggle and the struggle I have heard from many, many survivors of missionary boarding schools.
If the denomination leadership truly had the best interest of the wounded Mamou alumni, they would step out of their comfort zone Sunday morning. Sunday morning would be a liturgical service without the dreaded hymns and choruses. The presiding clergy would be on a "non-believing" arm of the church - Methodist, Catholic, and Episcopalian.
It would be a service of lament. How could Mamou have happened? How could the part of the church called the C&MA be so blind then, so silent now? Where do we fit God into this horrific landscape of Mamou? How can the survivors of Mamou ever grasp and hold onto the concept of an all-loving God?
When there is prayer, we remember that prayer was used to silence us about the truth of what was happening to us. Prayer can feel pointless now.
When a hymn is sung, we remember that the words will be for some hollow, excruciatingly painful for others. "Great is Thy faithfulness...morning by morning new mercies I see" - the mercy for some was that they had survived another night and did not die or go insane.
When God is spoken of, we remember that God was given as the reason we were at Mamou. It was God's church that had to be built at the expense of our childhood.
When the church, a faith community, is spoken of, we remember it was the grown-ups calling themselves Christians who inflicted rage, beatings, fear, perversions on innocent children. The same children who were exhorted by those grow-ups to have pure hearts or they would never go to heaven.
Survivor of Mamou Alliance Academy