‘You can holler for your safety because you matter’

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Hollering for Change is the name of a series of commentaries by The Rev. Dr. Tori Butler for United Methodist News. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News. 

Pastors can often find themselves in uncomfortable and even dangerous situations when trying to minister to others, but they can take steps to ensure their safety.

The Rev. Dr. Tori Butler explores the risks that pastors – particularly clergywomen – face in an interview with the Rev. Dr. Jalene Chase, former Metro Transit police officer in Washington and current pastor of Goshen United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

This video interview follows the tragic slayings of two Black clergywomen in recent months – the Rev. Marita Harrell of the North Georgia Conference and the Rev. Autura Eason-Williams of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference. Butler also explored this topic in her first UM News commentary, “Hollering for safety.”

In their conversation, Butler and Chase discuss:

  • Practical ways that clergy – clergywomen, specifically – can maintain their safety.
  • How pastors can facilitate conversations with church members about safety concerns.
  • How to engage with the local community service officer in helping the congregation with security assessments and safety practices.
  • Steps a pastor should take during and after an uncomfortable situation.
  • Safety practices a pastor should follow when doing a home visit.
  • How the pastor can recruit members of the church community to accompany them or provide other support.
  • Tips for de-escalating tense situations.
  • How to emphasize safety over fear and go with your intuition.
  • The importance of setting boundaries and ensuring respect.

“I pray that somebody watching this will feel empowered, that you will use your voice, that you will understand that your voice matters, and that you can make some noise,” Butler says. “… You can holler for your safety because you matter.”

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