Lindsay Hardin Freeman writes about figurative “skeletons in the sacristy” in the Episcopal Church Foundation Vital Practices blog:
Skeletons in the Sacristy
By Lindsay Hardin Freeman, part of the Vestry Papers issue on Conflict and Controversy at ECFVP
Skeletons in the sacristy? We have one — figuratively, at least — in our church. We don’t talk about it much; most parishioners haven’t even known about it. But like in all family systems, and the church is one, not talking about things isn’t always the best option, either.
. . .
“Most parishes do have stuff in their closets,” says Speed Leas of the Alban Institute and a specialist in parish conflict. “Some have worked through it, and had substantial growth. But if you have a place that calls a lot of rectors and just runs through them, or clergy say ‘that’s a tough place,’ then you have a place that needs some attention.”
Which begs the question: How do skeletons rumbling around in a church affect current-day life and what do vestries do about them?
“The purpose of looking at the past is not to dwell there, but to see how the past affects the present,” says family systems analyst Peggy Treadwell, director of the Counseling Center at St. Columba’s Church in Washington, D.C. “There’s an old saying, ‘anybody can take the truth, but the secrets can kill you.’”