From the Desk of Reverend Gary Rivas
Bishop of the Central District of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa
This week, I was deeply distressed to hear of the sexual harassment allegations against a steward in the Methodist City Mission Church, as well as the Pretoria-based church’s response to the claims and protests.
On Sunday 28 January 2018, a group of protesters disrupted a service at the Methodist City Mission Church, when they got on stage in the middle of the steward’s announcement. The protesters were then removed from the church by the congregants.
It emerged via the media this week, that one of the women had logged a sexual harassment complaint against the steward in November 2017. The twenty-year-old woman and her family are congregation members of the City Mission Church.
I want to make it clear that there is no place for sexual harassment within the church. A church needs to be a safe place for people to worship, learn and have fellowship with other congregants. It is not a place where those in leadership positions can abuse this trust.
I also do not condone the silencing of those who wish to report such a crime. It takes great courage for victims of sexual abuse to come forward and they need to be supported.
Sexual harassment is a source of pain for victims and is not something the church should tolerate or handle lightly. Claims of this nature need to be dealt with swiftly.
To all those who have suffered sexual abuse, my prayers are with you.