Prairie Update (December 16, 2011)
As we enter this Christmas season, we are wrapping up what has truly been a great semester. We continue to appreciate our friends and supporters around the world and wanted to provide you with an update. As you know, in the midst of this semester, we have begun to face an issue regarding allegations of past abuse. While in some ways this has been a consuming process, handling this in an open and transparent way is vitally important as PBI moves forward.
During the last two years, we as a school have focused on building trust with our constituency. When allegations of abuse surfaced earlier this fall, we made every effort to respond appropriately and keep our friends reasonably informed. This has included pledging our full cooperation with the RCMP and making ourselves directly available to any who wish to share their experiences with us, no matter how difficult. We sincerely want those who may have been injured to feel loved and welcomed, but most importantly, to find the reconciliation, healing and justice appropriate to each situation.
Bruce Miller, Prairie Board chair shares that “On behalf of the Board of Directors of PBI, we wish to express our sincere regrets to any and all who feel they were injured during their time at PBI. Our desire is to help you find true and complete healing. We further affirm our resolve to creating a community that stands firm against abuses of every kind. We believe that many people have encountered God in a life-changing way at Prairie. We are resolved to ensure that we do everything possible to make Prairie a place where this can happen for more and more people in a life-giving atmosphere of transparency and safety.”
During the last few weeks, my wife Elaine and I have heard from several individuals in person, over the phone and by email. They shared with us their personal stories that happened in their homes and in our community. As we listened, we believed these dear ones and their accounts and we deeply regret the pain they have been through. In response, we were overcome with compassion. We have children that we love more than life itself, and the thought of anyone harming them is too much for us. We were also humbled by the stories of incredible redemption and forgiveness, stories of injured people choosing blessing rather than bitterness. We realize that not everyone is at that point. Our hearts go out to you as well.
Looking ahead, we continue to invite anyone with allegations of abuse to take appropriate action. In addition to contacting us directly, we believe there are three options that represent good ways forward.
1) Alumni: We have a truly amazing group of Alumni around the world. Many of them have offered to help in any way possible. A dozen of them have committed a great deal of time to working with those alumni who have stories of pain and injury. This group cares about Prairie as well as the need for the injured to find healing. Their efforts may include raising funds to help cover some of:
- - the costs of travel if someone would like to come back, either to share with us or the third-party group; and
- - the costs related to reconciliation and healing.
- Subject to legal constraints, Prairie will allow these funds to pass through the school so that donors can benefit from a tax deductible receipt. Those who would like to share their stories of pain and injury are invited to contact this team at email@example.com.
2) Independent Third Party: We have been in contact with Centre Street Church in Calgary, a prominent Canadian church with professional counselors on staff. This church is not conflicted by virtue of any relationship with Prairie. Centre Street offers a safe and secure place for injured people to be heard and given professional advice on steps to move forward, including directing individuals to the appropriate authorities, referring them for additional counselling or bringing them to the appropriate parties at Prairie. The contact person at the church is Dr. Miriam Mollering at Miriam.Mollering@cschurch.ca.
3) RCMP: We continue to cooperate with the RCMP. By doing so, we acknowledge their God-given authority and desire to seek justice. If you wish to report any criminal activity that has happened at PBI, please contact them directly at 403-443-5539 (Three Hills detachment).
We have not just listened to stories, but have heard and felt pain. The road to wholeness and healing can be a long one, but it is our desire to stand with you and walk along that road. May the doors of healing and reconciliation be truly open and may God be honoured in all of our lives.