Churches unite for prayer vigil for sex abuse survivors

Local

Instead of turning away from God during a time of hurt and sadness, the people at a prayer vigil in New Cumberland turned toward Him. The goal of the ceremony was to heal the community, broken by the truth exposed in the grand jury report on clergy sex abuse, released last week.

“Help us to live gracefully inside this tension,” said Tina Moyer, who spoke at the vigil.

Eight local churches of different denominations prayed together for survivors of clergy sex abuse.

People in the pews of Baughman United Methodist Church wore white ribbons to support survivors and their families.

“What I saw tonight was everybody coming together,” said Bruce Chambers, an Etters resident who went to the vigil. “Hopefully, in this whole situation with the Catholic Church, what we’ll see is some changes.”

It’s been a week and a half since the Pennsylvania grand jury report exposed 300 predator priests and identified more than 1,000 victims.

“Emotions of anger that brother priests have allowed themselves to get entangled in this awful web of violence and abuse,” said Father Michael McFadden, the pastor at Saint Theresa’s Parish.

McFadden says instead of leaving the Church, it’s time to lead the Church.

“Lead the Church now in going forward to the healing and renewal that we all need,” said McFadden.

Vigil organizer Angela Cook says all churches need to focus on transparency.

“There’s not just the Catholic denomination that has had this happen, so while we’re here to support those that have been abused in the report, we’re also going to support all victims of sexual abuse,” said Cook.

“We are in moral crisis,” said Baughman United Methodist Church Pastor Win Green. “Make no mistake about it. We are as sick as our secrets, and there have been a lot of secrets, and we need to bring the light of day, and we need to bring the healing of Jesus Christ.”

Survivors continue to come forward years after their abuse.

The Attorney General’s hotline to report abuse is 888-538-8541.

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