Click here to read the entire Guidepost Solutions investigation of the LYFE Camp of the Minnesota Annual Conference of United Methodist Church.
Reporter 1 Statement
A victim of God may
Through learning adaption
Become a partner of God
A victim of God may
Through forethought and planning
Become a shaper of God
Or a victim of God may
Through shortsightedness and fear
Remain God’s victim
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower
Let me start off by saying that this was never my responsibility. The brunt and weight of protection for youth has rested on my sinking shoulders starting in 2006 and the injustice of this burden deserves to be acknowledged. This report and transparency in 2023 by UMC leadership is a good start for this acknowledgement.
Octavia E. Butler’s words above have been my guiding force since first reading them in July 2020. Not everyone who has been victimized in the way I have by the church are able to maintain a relationship with “God,” so rather I became a strategist, a partner, a shaper. When looking back at this whole thing my first strategic move was in 2003/2004. Somehow in my state of freeze and dissociation when FSC1 crossed the line with me, I decided to press print. I saved this conversation in my camp box of letters and photos. In 2006, when confronted with what appeared to be a pattern, I brought them to Pastor 1—my second strategic move.
To my strategic partners along the way:
Of particular note is the relationship and support I have received from Stephanie Krehbiel at Into Account. She patiently strategized with me, encouraged me when I was done and over communications with UMC, and continually offered sound education and support. Other organizations and people of note who were of significant support include: the 25 people who signed my letter to the UMC in April 2022, Reporter 2, other survivors of FSC1 including the 8 women, Amy Isenor and Lisa Stratton from Standpoint MN, RAINN, Lawyers for Reporters, AcnaToo—specifically Joana Rudenborg, my mother and father, my siblings, my aunt and uncle, M1 from the report—who more appropriately goes by Mama Bear, Marianne Combs, Rachael Denhollander, among others including vigilante activists in the twin cities. Thank you for those who offered me strategic support as I sought for the truth to be told.
To Reporter 2:
The grace and compassion you have offered me ever since we exchanged stories in 2020 is something I will hold closely. Your courage, eloquence, and commitment to wellbeing inspires me. I will be endlessly grateful for your willingness to take part in this investigation. May you continue to move on living your wonderfully full and beautiful life and may I follow your example.
To any other victims impacted at LYFE Camp or elsewhere:
This has always been for you. I want you to know how hard I fought for you, for us, for our stories to be acknowledged, for those in positions of power to act right. We deserved so much more. In my journey over the years, I spoke with several attorneys. My hope is that this report will support you in your healing in whatever form it takes. I have been asked by other survivors about statute of limitations both for civil and criminal claims for both individual abusers and institutions/pastors. I could detail here what I understand the law to be, but not having a legal background, I highly recommend speaking with an attorney or RAINN about your options if this is an avenue you want to explore. Some attorneys I’ve connected with or know are reputable from other survivors include Jeff Anderson and Associates. I personally called Jeff Anderson and Associates in Summer 2020 and even though I was unable to be taken as a client, they were trauma-informed and let me down easy.
To the Bishop/s of the UMC/Minnesota Annual Conference:
It appears that in 2020 avoiding litigation and protecting your image were more important than thinking of what this might cost a former child of your congregations. I was the kind of child who during Children’s Moment would donate the money she won from the game the pastor shared to the tithing plate. So maybe it makes sense that that kind of child would be the one to offer so much free labor for the benefit of you and your constituents. This injustice and the cost to me will never be captured in a report. You would have to interview my partner, my advocate, my therapist, my parents, my siblings. Or perhaps you would have to count my tears, measure the searing, stabbing pain in my chest, track my obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors—-to even begin to understand the cost that came with this. To continue to work with you on justice or protection for youth would place myself at too much risk and is ill advised by my therapist. You have proven yourselves unworthy of the gift I have been and would continue to be to your community. So, this is my last and final unpaid labor to you and your wider community, because I am worth so much more than continuing to put myself in harm’s way. I may watch from afar for your continued effort at transparency and trust-building, but for my own sake and life beyond this past, I need to maintain my distance. I am hopeful for you. This is true. However, symptoms of hypervigilance and mistrust overpower that hope and that’s a god damn shame. This is the cost.
Why did I have to lead this? Any of this? The reporting? The follow up? The request for the investigation and repeated requests for transparency? The persistence from April 22 through the summer of 2022 that only now Pastor Gregorson is thanking me for? I’m grateful to be thanked for my work, but I want to know who was lacking in their duty that I had to go through this? What was lacking in your planning or policies that this burden was placed on me? What needs to change in your system to prevent this type of burden for another survivor/s? And perhaps most importantly right now—-what is your plan in offering care and support for others who may come forward to you? A standard of care is to offer therapy or reimbursement for therapy for victims. I’ve done my own math and I’m upwards of $25,000 in therapy costs to be where I am at right now. So please, offer the care and compassion to victims/survivors in this form of support. This will have a huge impact for healing.
To the three pastors I asked to sign my letter in Spring of 2022 (not Pastor 1 or Dean 1):
This is where I start to disagree with the investigators about their assessment of systematic issues. Maybe it’s a systematic lack of understanding and support for sexual abuse victims?
For those of you in pastoral roles/positions of power who also claim to care about social justice who lacked the courage and fortitude to stand by the side of truth and justice and to stand with me in my bold and wise request by signing onto my letter in Spring/ Summer of 2022: I hope this message and this report offers you a lesson on the importance of taking risks and relationship building for the next person who offers you the same trust I did. I am tempted to give your three names and copies of our exchanges to the bishop for follow up, but I recommend that you do that for your own conscience and skill building. I believe in you that you can do better and my hope is that you will take the appropriate steps in your professional development because that is your responsibility.
To Dean 1:
I have no words. Lauryn Hill’s Lost Ones seems appropriate. I’m going to let those who know you personally address you.
To Pastor 1:
This one hurts me. It has hurt me since 2006. It hurt me to give your name to Youth Frontiers because I know this didn’t look good for you. It hurt me to do that—-I don’t know that you or others who love you understand how much this has hurt me. I know you care about me and I know you care about the others. I couldn’t accept your apology in 2020 because I didn’t believe you knew yet what you needed to apologize for. You said to the investigators that me making a report to Youth Frontiers would be empowering to me. It actually left me exposed legally as we later found out in 2020 and psychologically fucked me up. Chronic illness, relationship issues, etc. Reporting abuse/harm and going unheard is very costly.
The most empowering thing I have done in regards to this as it relates to you is reporting you to your bosses. That way I no longer had the option of continuing to communicate with you. The next empowering thing was to connect with Stephanie Krehbiel and delineate the patterns of behavior I had experienced with you. My mother, my friends, my partner, and my advocate all told me that continuing a relationship with you did not seem wise or a next best step. I’ll give you this: you are telling the truth now—-or at least a lot of the truth and I can be grateful for that.
I also recognize that you are getting older now. Psychological development for your life stage is moving towards ego integrity versus despair. I pray you get the help you need and take continued actions to make this right for your own integrity. You are not a victim in this and you should feel empowered to share how shitty it is to not do the right thing when you are given the chance. You have something to share—-you have a story to share—–and that is —–when someone small and brave comes forward, believe them and support them unequivocally. Don’t shame them. Instead, tell them: “this was not your fault. I am so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for telling me. I will take care of this and want to walk alongside you as we make this right.”
I needed to hear that this was not my fault. It’s taken me so long to understand that. I had so much shame for so long. This shame likely was fueled by the sexual purity messages shoved down my throat and on my wrist in the form of a purity fish tackle bracelet. “When you’re tempted remember God’s love for you.” I didn’t need to hear that shutting down the conversation was the right thing to do. I started to break those bonds of taking on your and FSC1’s shame in 2020. For further on this topic please consult #ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing by Emily Joy Allison.
Above all else Pastor 1, I’m asking you to please gain the fortitude and strength to not act like a victim in this. I believe you are capable. There is space and room for your redemption, but not if you remain in a state of victimhood of being ‘manipulated’ by FSC1.
Finally, To All Those Inspired To Be Part of Change Making:
From Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You.” I recommend watching it on YouTube for full effect. This is Arabella’s monologue:
“Bob does think you’re crazy. He thinks it’s all a little uncalled for, and this personal thing is going too far. And he’s very confident in his view, because he’s gone exploring to see what boundaries and violations women might be banging on about because Bob’s thorough. On his travels through boundaries and borders, he found the line that separated him, from everything else. He looked at the line in detail, and tiptoed on it, and Bob experienced the feeling of being on the border, boundary, right on the line; of being neither in one place, or another, neither one thing or the other, and saw how in this grey, where nothing is quite clear, no one can be clear, we can’t articulate, we fuddle our words we can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. So yeah, Bob thinks you’re crazy, Bob thinks he’s the smartest man in the room who knoweth all things because he’s observed the details. We have to start observing Bob, and telling him we too see the detail; We see you Bob, and if we see you it means we’re with you, tiptoeing in the line right behind you, and in that place where rules, clarity, law, and separation cease to exist we will explain exactly what we mean, by violation.”
So many of the actors who made change happen in this story were observing Bob. M1 (Mama Bear), Reporter 2, my mother. We saw it and we acted.
This report is a detailed description of how a Bob might operate. This also shows you Bob’s friends and support system and how they might enable and even embolden a Bob. As a whole, we can all make a difference and be more like the mama bears of this story. So, please for the larger community interested in preventing sexual harassment and grooming of minors——take this report as a case study in how to spot a Bob, report a Bob, and stop a Bob so that Bobs no longer are welcome to operate with their business as usual.
And to the Bobs of the world, we are watching. To this particular Bob: check mate.