Survivors Network of
those Abused by Priests
to Detroit Annual Conference of
United Methodist Church
March 14, 2005
Detroit Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
1309 N. Ballenger Hwy, Suite 1
Flint, MI 48504-7519
Dear Members of the Detroit Annual Conference:
Our organization, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP),
is a self-help group of over 5,000 members dedicated to supporting clergy
abuse victims. Although the word "priests" appears in the title,
SNAP supports any survivor of sexual abuse by any religious authority
figure, no matter the denomination or role of the abuser. Survivors from
various denominations belong to our group, and in general they experience
the same dynamics as survivors from the Catholic Church. All citizens
have a legitimate stake in ensuring that our religious institutions fulfill
their duties to their followers, among which are to uphold the truth and
to protect their members.
For several months our organization has been following a story involving
the UMC Detroit Conference. We have noted UMC's extensive policy regarding
handling of sexual abuse allegations within your Church. On paper, the
policy looks good, but no policy is effective if both the letter and the
spirit of the policy are not enforced.
Joy Veronica Reyes Singer has brought allegations of sexual abuse against
the Rev. Charles Boayue, a Detroit minister in the United Methodist Church.
In analyzing the official church response to her allegations, our organization
believes that the victim did not receive the advocacy and support outlined
in the policy. Those steps are vital in the recovery/healing process for
a survivor and his/her family. They are also crucial if others who have
been wounded are to feel encouraged in reporting dangerous abusers to
church and civil authorities.
The accused has sought a court "protective order" to prevent
Joy from discussing her case. Gag orders or attempts to muzzle the victim,
others, and the media interfere with the pursuit of justice and truth.
To speak out about one's own sexual abuse, especially by a member of the
clergy, is daunting and terrifying for any person, no matter one's age
or circumstances. Survivors who risk all to challenge predators should
be applauded, not silenced.
The United Methodist Church prides itself on its commitment to social
justice. This case of alleged clergy sexual abuse tests the depth and
breadth of the institutional church's resolve to attain social justice.
We in SNAP are closely observing the developments in this case. Our hope
is that United Methodist officials of the Detroit Conference will live
up to the promises of your policies.
We strongly urge you to speak out against the oppressive and unjust gag
order Boayue is requesting. We also strongly urge you, for the sake of
healing and justice and prevention, to remove Boayue from his ministerial
position, until a thorough, independent investigation of Joy's charges
is completed. That's the first step toward protecting other vulnerable
people from this pastor.
Janet Patterson, National Board Member
1171 N. Conway Springs Rd.
Conway Springs, KS 67031
316 772 6537 cell
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790
of those Abused by Priests