March 2021
‘I Believe You.’ It’s Just That Simple: Clergy Response to Sexual Assault
By Pastor Tennille Power, Senior Pastor, Hazelcrest Community United Methodist Church

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This month is designated as a time when we as a community bring awareness to the evil of sexual assault and its dramatic impact on not only victims, but also the community as a whole.

Clergy are not exempt from facing the reality of sexual assault.

Whether in parish ministry or serving in the public sector – with staggering statistics such as one in five women and one in 13 men will have been sexually assaulted or forced to be complicit in a sexual act in their lifetime - we have encountered and interfaced with a victim of sexual assault living to survive past their trauma.

Often clergy may feel stuck and a church community may feel ill equipped to handle such a crisis. This isn’t something we can pray away. Sexual Assault is real, and clergy have a mandate in scripture to live a Micah 6:8 life to do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with God. This begins with one simple phrase: I believe You.

Before life in parish ministry, I spent more than 10 years in the sexual assault field, initially serving as a medical/legal advocate for anyone presenting sexual assault to a neighboring Emergency Room hospital. Often, I found myself sitting with victims literally hours after an assault. The smell of fresh tears and the look of ripped clothing and blood were real and often I was one of the first three people to hear the horrible details of what happened.

April Community of Practice Meeting: Faithful Response to Sexual Assault
April 8, from 9:00-11:00

Join the Chicagoland Trauma-Informed Congregations Network as we observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In this two-hour Community of Practice we will:

  • Build capacity and address the whole victim/survivor from an emotional/mental/therapeutic focus,
  • Explore the spiritual aspect of healing and providing services to underserved communities,
  • Strengthen understanding of Sexual Assault 101, including the Do's and Dont's, and dismantling the misconceptions of sexual violence,
  • Understand how sexual violence impacts spirituality and the faithful response to sexual assault, and
  • Create a safe space for community dialogue to enrich our community response.

The Community of Practice is facilitated via Zoom. The event will include guest speakers and break-out rooms to deepen the conversation as well as harvest community key takeaways.

For questions, please contact Octavia Tyson at
Community Resources

Jewish Children and Family Services Chicago offers education and resources to increase awareness, expand understanding and ensure a culturally sensitive, coordinated response to abuse in Jewish homes and families. 

Partnership for Safer Communities promotes interpersonal safety, health and well-being in Jewish day schools, synagogues, camps and other institutions through education, policy review and community building efforts. 

Learn about LCFS's abuse prevention programs, including Safer Synagogues, Safer Schools, and Safer Camps here.

This sexual abuse prevention training program educates adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse, and motivates them to courageous action. The Stewards of Children program is designed for organizations that serve children and youth, and any/all adults interested in protecting children. This program recognizes that adults are responsible for the safety of children.

Why Do We Need Stewards of Children?
  • 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before age 18.
  • 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse in America today.
  • 90% are abused by someone they know.
  • Sexual misconduct is the No. 1 reason for coach firings (1 in every 5).
  • Organizations have paid out millions to victims and families because of coach sexual misconduct. In a 1990 case in Lake Washington, WA, the settlement was $2.3 million.

May 20, 10:00-11:30 a.m.

May Community of Practice Meeting on Human Trafficking

Virtual Conversation on Human Trafficking
April 9, 9:00-10:00 a.m.

Sponsored by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Institute for Politics, Public Service, and Social Justice at Governors State University

Human trafficking has left no part of the world untouched, and Chicagoland is no exception. Our vulnerability stems in part from our location in the middle of the country and having modes of transportation (highway, rail, air, and water) that allow for limitless movement of people. Additionally, the unevenness of our social landscapes, enclaves of impoverishment, and significant populations of at-risk groups such as youths, school dropouts, runaways, and undocumented workers, offer enticements for human traffickers.

Click here to join.

The Gathering Place Taking Referrals
Naomi's House exists because every woman who has suffered from commercial sexual exploitation deserves a new start.

The Gathering Place, a day program of Naomi’s House, will begin accepting referrals for its day program in DuPage County starting in June. The program will offer career advancement, educational exploration, emotional wellness programs and community support.

Interested applicants can contact Amanda Bagnall, director of programming.

Helping the Helper: Identifying Trauma-Related Warning Signs and Taking Action
Online On-Demand Workshop:
Vicarious Trauma - Secondary Trauma Stress -Burnout – Compassion Fatigue – What are the differences, and why should it matter to me?

This workshop will help you begin to identify and understand how working with traumatized individuals can have effects that you may not have recognized. As a helper it is vitally important to know yourself and recognize the warning signs. It is also important to have a plan in place to reduce the impact, practice trauma stewardship, and find balance through self-care.

Workshop objectives:
  • Compare Differences in Trauma Related Effects
  • Identify Trauma Exposure Responses
  • Identify and Discuss the Warning Signs
  • Explain the Importance of Trauma Stewardship

2 CEUs for Licensed Counselors, Social Workers, CDVP.

Register here. Questions? Call 630-617-0088
Upcoming Events
Equity-Centered Healing Circles

March 15 & 22, 9:00 a.m.-noon

Sponsored by Cook County Health and Umoja Corporation

Cook County Health's Racial & Equity Group invites staff and surrounding community members to engage in equity-centered healing circles.

Facilitated by experienced Umoja staff, Healing Circles offer a safe space for various community stakeholder groups to reflect on and share about their experiences with Cook County Health while addressing health inequities experienced by patients, employees, and the surrounding community.

March 18, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Sponsored by African American Community Partnership Group Lake County

Join us as we talk about reimagining worship during COVID-19 (Tools to help faith communities worship safely). Special Guests: Pastor Cory Ratliff, Pastor Ernest Duplessis, and Andrew Gadsden.

March 18, 10:00-10:45 a.m.
Meets on the third Thursday of the month

Sponsored by Advocate Aurora Health

The Partners For Faith & Health Network was created by Advocate Trinity Hospital and South Suburban Hospital to bring together leaders of all religions, community members, and people in the health field.

We want to work together to advocate and promote lifestyles and activities that prevent and/or support the management of chronic disease in the Southland community. Together, we learn about health topics and discuss how we can improve the health of the people in our community.

March 23, 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Between Friends

In Their Shoes is an experiential activity that builds empathy and understanding of domestic violence dynamics, the cycle of harm, and barriers experienced by those being harmed. The activity allows participants to walk in the shoes of a survivor. Participants move, act, think, and make choices as a person navigating an unsafe or harmful relationship.

1.0 ICDVP CEU available for Illinois Certified Domestic Violence Professionals.

March 25, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Sponsored by African American Community Partnership Group Lake County

Join us as we talk about self care during COVID-19. Special Guests: Pastor Eddie Journey, Therapist Sonja Dewey, and Rev. Dr. Curlee Adams.
B.A.A.D. Girls Gathering

March 29, 7:00 p.m.

Sponsored by Body Of Christ Deliverance Ministries

Body of Christ Deliverance Ministries, 741 W. 115th Street, Chicago, will offer a light meal and evening of support for women over 18 who have experienced abuse, rejection and fear.

To learn more about the evening and the B.A.A.D. (Born Again and Delivered) Girls program, contact Dr. Yvonne Wilson.

April 12, 3:00-4:00 p.m.
The second Monday of each month at 3:00 p.m.

Sponsored by Advocate Aurora Health

All are welcome to the Southland Gratitude Room on Zoom. We gather virtually each month to:

Learn about the benefits of gratitude (there are many!)
Support one another and pray together
Share creative and fun ideas on how to live a more grateful life
Enjoy one-on-one conversations and group discussions on a range of topics, such as:

  • the meaning of gratitude
  • how to create sacred spaces for quiet time or meditation
  • the power of living of grateful life

Each Gratitude Room session includes a time of centering/meditation and an opportunity to explore what our sacred texts say about gratitude and living a more grateful life.

Savvy CaregiverTM Training Program

  • Wednesdays, 7:00-9:00 p.m., starting April 7
  • Tuesdays, 10:00 a.m. – noon, starting April 13
  • Thursdays, 2:00-4:00 p.m., starting April 15
The Savvy CaregiverTM training program is designed for people caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or a related memory problem. The sessions are offered at no cost via videoconference with available call-in capacity for people who do not have internet access.

Each training series offers 12 hours of training broken up into six, two-hour sessions. To get the most out of the program, participants should plan to attend all six sessions in the series for which they register because one week builds upon the information in the prior week.

To register or for more information Email or call 312-743-3528.
The Practice of Companionship - Preparing for the Future One Step at a Time

April 18, noon
April 19, 6:00 p.m.

Sponsored by Faith Community Church, Itasca, IL, and Pathways to Promise

As we prayerfully and patiently seek God during this Lenten season, we are excited to launch a two-part online series focused on Companionship. Companionship is a practice of presence and is rooted in our natural capacities as humans to act on our concern for another person.

  • Companionship is a relational response to isolation and distress, supportive of healing and recovery.
  • Companionship is not about “fixing” but instead welcomes the stranger, building a circle of care with individuals who are facing emotional and mental health challenges.

A fee of $49 covers the cost of materials. Questions? Contact Pastor Darryl Jenkins.

April 24, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Sponsored by the CommUNITY Diversity Group of La Grange, Lyonsville Congregational United Church of Christ, and The LeaderShop.

Join us for an anti-racism conference with multiple virtual and in-person workshops for all ages: adults, teens, kids, caregivers, parents and families together! Topics include anti-racism in: literature, raising kids, school culture, poetry, microaggressions, educating ourselves, history, a community art project and more.

  • Wednesdays, through April 28
  • 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Sponsored by Advocate Aurora Health

“What’s Next?” is a weekly resilience program that combines evidence-based scientific studies with encouragement from faith-based resources. Participants will gain tools to:

  • build resilience amid the difficulties of life
  • learn from their experiences
  • use the knowledge they gain to nourish themselves and the world around them

Attend any or all sessions. LaShondria Purnell, RN, a faith community nurse with Advocate Aurora Health, facilitates "What's Next?" and looks forward to learning alongside you.

  • Tuesdays from 8:30-9:00 a.m.
  • Thursdays from 6:00-6:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Advocate Aurora Health

The Prayer Support Line allows us to come together in unity to release our burdens, receive comfort and express our gratitude to God for holding us close during this pandemic.

The Prayer Support Line is a place where we can join with others in prayer for health, healing and spiritual care with the expectation that God will meet us and provide us with encouragement.
We welcome your submissions for future issues of the Chicagoland Trauma Informed Congregations Network newsletter.

Please contact Cindy Novak if you have an event, resource or story you'd like to share. Thank you!