Church Unity

Wounded by the church? Grieve and pray with us July 10

With Incarnation Anglican Church and the Revs Amy Rowe and Katie Hamlin, Coracle is offering a healing Eucharist service for those who have been wounded by the church on Wednesday, July 10 at 7pm in our ministry center at Greenbrier Baptist Church in Arlington, VA.

We can get wounded by the church–by a congregation, a denomination, a tradition, those in pastoral leadership–in a broad variety of many ways.  Getting hurt by a leader or people you’ve trusted and even loved is extremely painful and frustrating.

It remains one of the things that pains me most deeply, when people who love Jesus get badly hurt by the institutions that bear his name, which are supposed to represent him by being most like him.  And yet it is hardly uncommon, and these days it seems quite common.  It’s painful to see and even more painful to experience, and is disorienting.

There’s a lot of that going around right now.  I regularly encounter women and men who are carrying questions, confusions, and grief when a leader, congregation or tradition they’ve known and trusted for years has really let them down or been exposed.

In her weekly letter to Incarnation, Amy describes the what and why of this Healing Eucharist service we are offering together, and what we are hoping for:

…Sometimes the church seems less-than-beautiful. Sometimes the church becomes a place of pain. Sometimes shepherds fail to protect and nourish the sheep in their care. Many people, including many in our own congregation, have experienced harm from those who minister in Jesus’ name, making the church feel unsafe and painful.

The American church seems to be experiencing a sort of reckoning with church harm as documented in the Mars Hill podcast, Hillsong documentaries, and the seemingly unending list of scandals and abuses from church leaders across all denominations. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)  is not immune to such abuses.

And yet our God is near to the brokenhearted and vulnerable. He desires to purify his church and heal his wounded people. This is an area of personal calling and conviction for me; in fact, the first sermon I ever preached was in a Healing Eucharist service for those with church wounds. I long to see the church become a place of refuge and healing for wounded sheep, where we can re-encounter the love of God in Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.

So I am grateful that this will be the focus of our next quarterly Healing Eucharist. On July 10, we will partner with the Rev. Bill Haley of Coracle — with whom we share office space and break bread each week at Greenbrier Baptist — to offer a service for those who have experienced harm in the church. I am glad that Bill, Katie, Russell, and I will lead this service together, men and women who serve the church in mutual submission to one another.

And I am grateful for our liturgy, which creates a sense of safety and boundaries within which the Spirit can minister healing. If you’ve attended a “healing service” in a charismatic tradition, this will likely feel different — quieter, gentler, and more liturgical (i.e., predictable). There will be silences and time for reflection. We will pray a litany for those harmed by the church, and for the healing of the institution. The ministers will confess on behalf of the church before we all confess together. Prayer and anointing for healing will be available for those who seek it. And we will conclude our time together at Jesus’ table, asking him to nourish and restore us with his own body and blood.

I hope you will consider joining us, or inviting a friend who may benefit from this service: Wednesday, July 10, at 7pm at Greenbrier Baptist (5401 7th Rd S). If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me or Katie (from BH: or me)!

On the journey,

Share this post

Keep Growing

Do you want robust Spiritual Formation resources delivered straight to your inbox each week?