Reimagining the Future: The Afterpastor Serving a Post-Traumatic Congregation
How do churches thrive after they have experienced trauma caused by clergy sexual misconduct, especially in a denomination that does not provide uniform protocol and processes for a response, education, and prevention? This paper addresses the problem of clergy sexual misconduct, its impact on the entire congregation, and the role of specialized interim pastors within the context of the American Baptist Churches-USA. It examines the post-traumatic impact of this kind of breach on the local church.
This paper persuades the reader that the afterpastor, who is gifted and called to this specialized interim ministry of healing for the purpose of discerning and gathering resources to restore the church, is especially crucial in ABC churches. In the absence of a judicatory body, the afterpastor carries the responsibility to develop and implement a strategic plan that reconnects the congregation to God and to each other. Researching denominational missteps and other denominations’ responses to clergy sexual misconduct as well as case studies, led to new ways of considering a response to clergy sexual misconduct for ABC churches. Moreover, this paper proposes a collaborative leadership that includes region support and a restoration team which is critical to the success of the afterpastor and the renewal of a post-traumatic congregation. An appendix provides a resource guide for ABC churches and afterpastors to use in responding to clergy sexual misconduct.