A note from Cindy Kunsman:
Rev. Bob Pardon and Judy Pardon who operate Meadowhaven, a recovery center for those who have exited high demand groups, will be giving a workshop discussing the phenomenon of spiritual abuse. If you live near Silver Spring, MD and can attend on Wednesday, July 2nd at 2PM, please feel welcome to attend. The workshop will be held before the Annual International Cultic Studies International Conference at the Sheraton Silver Spring on Georgia Avenue.
From the little formal information we have on the subject, those who suffer harm in a spiritually abusive environment find that most ministers lack understanding of what they have endured. This effort aims to help educate Christian pastors about spiritual abuse, equipping them to meet the needs of this underserved but growing population of people. The very best experts in this area will be in attendance at the conference.
I’m honored to be part of this developing ministry. If you live outside the area, we have developed a speakers bureau and may have someone who can visit your church or group. Please contact me if this time is inconvenient but you wish to attend. I may be able to work out a time to review the material at a gathering in the evening sometime during the week following the workshop.
From the ICSA Webpage:
People who leave a Bible-based cult usually have great difficulty integrating into a church because of the spiritual abuse they have suffered in the “Name of God.” This spiritual abuse can be so destructive that it harms the deepest and most intimate aspects of a person’s being, making trust and commitment to spiritual counseling near impossible. Often, they have been “inoculated” against the Church by their group, and are filled with fear and anxiety. It is not unusual to hear former members say, “No one in my church understands what I am still going through – not even my Pastor.” Simply understanding the cult’s destructive doctrines is not enough for the former member, or the church. Former members' anxieties are often so severe that if they find no one who understands, they may see only four options: stay in the church and be miserable; church hop; leave the church entirely; go back to their group.
We are looking for people who are interested in expanding this program into Jewish and other faith communities; so please join us.
This workshop attempts to open up the world of former cult members to the Church, and to sensitize it to the hurts and needs of these people. Topics to be covered are:
- Tactics and strategies, denominationally and locally
- Necessary approaches for a “safe” church or synagogue
- Understanding categories; heretical vs. aberration, “wounded sheep”, etc.
- Components of a competent lay and pastoral approach
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Please contact Cindy at UnderMuchGrace AT gmail DOT com for information and questions about tuition. ICSA does charge a tuition for the workshop, but if this is a hardship, please contact me to pursue a scholarship. I’ve asked for special consideration of the survivors of Sovereign Grace Ministries who may wish to attend.
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About the Pardons:
Judy Pardon, MEd, has been a teacher and a counselor. Since 1992 she has been Associate Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research and Meadowhaven, where she has worked with former cult members, including some who have experienced profound trauma. She has also spoken widely on the subject and conducted training programs for human service personnel.
Robert Pardon, MDiv, ThM, is the Executive Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research and MeadowHaven. During the past several years he has specialized in Bible-based communal groups. Much of his work involves counseling, support groups, working with those born and/or raised in groups, and helping former members rebuild their lives. To facilitate the recovery process MeadowHaven, a long term rehabilitation facility was opened in 2002. It can accommodate individuals or families who require long term (up to a year) care to recover from trauma and cult abuse.
MeadowHaven exists to provide a refuge for former members of high control, destructive groups to rest, heal, and grow. By understanding their experience in an abusive environment and acquiring the skills necessary for life outside the group, MeadowHaven helps former members recover their ability to be thriving contributors to society. Healing is fostered in the context of healthy community, relationships with other former members with similar experiences, and a supportive staff who understand the processes of thought reform, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), identity confusion, chronic emotional disturbance, etc.