Not long after Prairie Bible Institute administrators went to media in November 2011 with this:
Recently, there have been presented alleged instances of abuse by individuals connected with Prairie Bible Institute.
To the extent of our information, the incidents in question date back several decades, and the individuals purportedly involved are no longer at Prairie. Nevertheless, we feel it is appropriate to respond and to emphasize our commitment to seeking truth and transparency.
We have taken a file containing many of these allegations to the RCMP, discussed the alleged incidents with them and assured them of our full co-operation should further inquiry be necessary.
a few PBI alumni went on FB announcing The Survivor Fund Project, asking for donations. This Project announcement soliciting donations occurred around the same time PBI President Mark Maxwell laid out exactly what PBI was going to do and not going to do about PBI abuse survivors. Part one of the three-point announced plan of the administration was the use of alumni; and not long after, The ‘Healing Team’ announced themselves. Already difficult relationships between PBI and abuse survivors became more strained as this small group of alumni stumbled with transparency and basic communication. None of the alumni is licensed, this ‘team’ presents themselves as an alternative to the independent third-party chosen by PBI (with a qualified and experienced PhD).
I call The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team, PBI’s paid friends. I have been vocal in my concern about this small group of well-meaning alumni and the unintentional harm they may cause presenting themselves as mentors, listeners and friends of abuse survivors. I have been vocal about the goals of this group, their ties to PBI, their pr attempts and the lack of appropriate legal and professional representation for abuse survivors they wish to take to PBI for ‘reconciliation.’ There is no financial transparency in their solicitation of funds, the undermining of the independent third-party (Calgary Centre Street Church came to a public head here in this blog with a comment by team member John Kepler, a US minister and member of The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team:
As a member of the Healing Team I am appalled by this blog and the depths to which Benediction seems to have stooped in publishing it.
First of all, the e-mail from which this information was gleaned was a private e-mail from Jim Crites to Dr. Mollering. The fact that it has been released demonstrates that Dr. Mollering is unable to retain confidential information. I wonder how much other information she has given out from people she has spoken with. Is she telling stories about confidential interviews she had? Are people’s private stories going to be publicized? If she cannot keep a private e-mail private, then she has no credibility as a counselor.
Second of all, these were never given to Dr. Mollering as the guidelines by which funds would be dispersed. These were some questions sent in response to one specific request she sent to Jim in which she was seeking some information about one particular case. Not only has she violated a confidential communicatiion, she has misrepresented the Healing Team by making this information public.
Kepler has never publicly apologized for trashing Centre Street Church and for his appalling remarks about Dr. Miriam Mollering. His contempt, preumptuousness and anger is chilling. I couldn’t care less about his criticism of me or this blog, but to cast aspirations on a qualified professional who willingly stepped up to help survivors, and his lack of a public apology for his public comment continues to leave me wondering how safe any abuse survivor is reaching out to this team. PBI administration would have an understandable goal of avoiding potential civil lawsuits and The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team will remain in place to ‘befriend and mentor’ any PBI abuse survivor contemplating justice.
I doubt anyone who has followed this saga believes the withdrawal of Centre Street Church as independent third-party is as rosy as PBI’s pr announcement paints the independent third-party departure. The fact that PBI administration did not ask Kepler for a public apology to Dr. Mollering remains as troubling as his behaviour.
I think Centre Street Church stayed professional with their withdrawal and took a high road. I doubt anyone other than the key players will ever know what went down, I doubt I’m alone in thinking Centre Street Church stayed professional and Christ-like in a difficult situation.
The up side to Centre Street Church stepping up for survivors is buried further in the PBI announcement:
Centre Street Church has provided a summary of findings and recommendations to PBI, which the leadership team is currently reviewing. It is our intention to combine CSC’s recommendations with our own policies, and the best practices in higher education, to ensure a safe environment that is vigilant against any form of abuse. We continue to believe that the Christian community should be a safe place for all to find healing and forgiveness, as well a place where justice prevails within an environment of grace.
Seven months after Mark Maxwell announced this group, The Healing Team has launched their own website, called Alumni Caring and Connecting, where they are seeking to provide resources and solicit stories of PBI alumni. With the launch of this website The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team is making it clear they are the only PBI sanctioned alternative for abuse survivors. They continue to solicit ’mentors,’ ’listeners’ and ‘friends’ as well as money, and the disclaimer lays out the Team’s rules for comments and guest authors.
I have no ties to PBI, and I don’t think, nor have I ever thought that BDBO was or is the best place to disseminate information about The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team. With a website, the alumni can do their own communicating with their rules and the decision to go online is better late than never. I continue to believe that intentionally or unintentionally, these alumni are being used by administration to diffuse potentially difficult situations for PBI, and I believe that this team has created and fostered an unequal power relationship for PBI abuse survivors. I have a great deal of difficulty believing that untrained and unlicensed alumni are what PBI abuse survivors need or deserve. It doesn’t matter what I think, the Healing Team is in place with the blessing of PBI and aren’t going anywhere. Not long after Kepler’s online outburst I received an email after I made an inquiry about this:
Update from the Healing Team:
In our previous communication, we have stated the goals that we established when we first formed: 1) healing for survivors; 2) justice for perpetrators. Over the past weeks, we have been privileged to have a number of abuse survivors come to us for help in accomplishing one or both of these goals. It has been a great honor to be entrusted with their stories of tragedies and triumphs as we have connected with them through phone, Skype, email, and in some cases, in person in our homes. We have shared memories, hugs, and tears. A number of survivors are pursuing additional avenues of healing and we are in the process of helping them walk further in their journeys. Many other alumni have come forward to offer to be “listeners” as well, and we are truly grateful for the wonderful team of “wounded soldiers” that God is building.
This communication is deliberately vague. Can this team define justice? (PBI abuse survivors have). Since none of this team are professionals, what does healing look like to them? How many abuse survivors have availed themselves of this team and why hasn’t anyone from the team indicated the reasons these now ‘healed’ survivors aren’t speaking up and encouraging others? What does pursuing additional avenues of healing even mean? Who are these ‘many other alumni’? To come back to the present, if the ‘many other’ even exist, why aren’t they named on the website as members of The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team? I don’t see ‘many other alumni’, no one has to my knowledge, and there were no new team members in April. What else has this team exaggerated?
There have been no changes to the members of the Healing Team.
The Healing Team has made the following decisions moving forward:
1. We will communicate only with known persons. While we respect your right to privacy, the Healing Team is about building personal relationships. Since you have chosen to remain anonymous, that becomes impossible for us.
2. We will provide our own communication at our discretion rather than having others attempt to speak on our behalf. We are particularly concerned about the growing misrepresentation of facts generally, and specifically regarding our role in the lives of survivors.
3. We believe that the public “battles” have become hindrances to survivors moving toward healthy places of healing. Therefore, we will largely ignore the ongoing debates as we choose to focus on the much bigger and exciting picture of what God is doing behind the scenes in people’s lives.
I agree with the decision of this group to step up and start communicating on their own site btw.
The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team finally starting a website is a mixed blessing. A none involved blog was not a good place to try to post the conflicting messages sent by this team over the past several months. They can deal with their own misrepresentations and block anyone they chose (as the Healing Team members do with PBI abuse survivors on FB).
PBI abuse survivors have been sharing resources for a couple of years, The Healing Team offering more resources is logical, and better late than never. The Team is upfront about their ongoing request for finances, and when PBI files the next T3010 with Revenue Canada, survivors and the public will have a clearer picture of the finances the paid friends have raised.
I’m an abuse survivor. I didn’t get a good start in live and things were not healthy in my adoptive family. As a Canadian with access to appropriate health care, when I was ready, I was able to access and receive professional help. I had some bad experiences with well-meaning church folk who, like the paid friends, thought they could step up and basically tell me what they thought I needed. I didn’t know any better. I learned quickly about power imbalances, spiritualizing, control, hidden motives etc. I have life long friends who didn’t set themselves up to save me, and who encouraged me to seek out qualified mental health professionals. I thank God often for their humbleness and common sense. I didn’t need any more know it all well meaning Christians, I needed help.
The site has a story of a courageous mom who gave a child up for adoption. She tells her story her way, and writes about the fear she had of people finding out about her decision. Sheila is a PBI alumni. She breaks her fear of her secret, finds her child and thanks God for His plans and provision. Those of us who didn’t have happy endings openly rejoice with her.
I don’t quite see what Sheila’s journey has to do with spiritual, emotional, physical or sexual abuse at PBI, or justice, healing and reconciliation, but that’s okay. I am glad she shared, and that her family is complete. I also don’t know what her story has to do with The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team, but that is her prerogative to share.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I think The Survivor Fund Project/Healing Team is taking cues from PBI President Mark Maxwell. A troubling conversation on FB tonight at Prairie Bible Institute Open Group indicates to me that divide and conquer, control and wrong headed good intentions continues to trickle down from the top.
An administrator for a FB abuse survivor group named Wanda Janz met with PBI President Mark Maxwell for 2 hours today. According to Wanda, Maxwell chose to trash the FB administrator of the open PBI group in their conversation. That the man heading PBI’s response to abuse survivors would blatently do this is another dreary example of PBI’s need for control and inability to clean its own house. Mark Maxwell hasn’t as yet clarified and explained himself.
I’ll end with these reminders to abuse survivors.
1. Anyone who was abused at PBI is encouraged to contact Const. Mark MacDonald of the Calgary RCMP.
2. Any PBI abuse survivor unsure of their rights and legal options is encouraged to contact a Calgary law firm which has stepped forward to help. I’ll supply the firm contact information when I receive it asap.