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Art Giving Voice to #MeToo

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Sara Dingman is curating a series on the #metoo movement and the church. The series will feature recollections, sermons, and art. We honor the women who have shared their stories, and hope their courage might inspire others to seek the support they need to speak their truth too in ways that are best for them. The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline is always available to support survivors of sexual assault. We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

by Ruth Everhart and Cheryl Prose

Ruth: An artist in Tennessee named Cheryl Prose makes art pieces corresponding to #MeToo stories that move her. She began with stories of friends, and came across my story in Sojourners. Since then she read my memoir, and this piece is based on the memoir.

~ The first image shows the piece in production. For “wallpaper” she tore pages from the book of Job from a large number of Bibles. The ink splotches represent gunpowder.

~ The second image shows the completed work, which includes folios of quotations, pieces from a “rape kit,” a gun, speaker wire (used to tie us up), and a plaque of a quote that especially moved her.

~ The third image is a closeup of that plaque, with the speaker wire.

~ The fourth image shows the inside of a folio.

I am moved that another artist found inspiration in my story. We in the church are often word-oriented and I appreciate these visuals.

Cheryl: I was a college student when a senior adult member of my church was kidnapped and gang raped by strangers. While a seminary student I learned that several of my classmates had experienced sexual harassment and assault at the hands of lay leaders as well as clergy—in churches where they grew up and in churches where they served on staff. As a college instructor, I listened as students told of being subjected to unwanted sexual advances—often at the hands of their Christian boyfriends. Where was the justice about which the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah spoke?

Fast forward to fall 2017. A number of my friends began to publicly tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault. The details of what they endured at the hands of others were sometimes unknown to me but there was no shock that these attacks happened given the pervasiveness of sexual violence and given what I already knew from my days as a student and as a teacher. I acknowledged their pain and yet there was a gut-level need to do more. How could I stand by these friends? How could I help give voice to their stories? How could I practice justice? In response to those questions, the MeToo Art Project began.

It is my hope that this project will (1) give survivors of sexual violence an additional vehicle by which to speak their truth about their experience, (2) be a means by which to hold perpetrators accountable, (3) raise awareness of the epidemic of sexual harassment and assault, and (4) be a means by which solidarity is shown- without regard to gender- with and to those who have experienced this type of life-altering attack.

Among the completed pieces is the story of Rev. Ruth Everhart who pastors a Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation in Maryland and who has written a memoir, Ruined, which outlines the sexual assault she suffered. In terms of design, I knew I wanted to incorporate text from the biblical book of Job. Job’s friends offered religious platitudes in light of the horrors he faced. Ruth experienced similar inadequacies and insult from the church in the aftermath of her horrifying ordeal. The ink that is splashed over the text is a reminder of the fingerprint powder that covered the crime scene. The multi-level case is reminiscent of the multiple-story house in which the attack took place. Because Rev. Everhart’s Me Too story is a hard one to hear, I wanted the viewer to have to work to access the story and so the individual books that carry details of the crime are intentionally stiff and difficult to open.

Sexual harassment and assault appear in many forms from street harassment to workplace harassment to date rape to assault by strangers. If you are willing to have your Me Too story expressed in a visual format, contact me at metooartproject@gmail.com (Participants may choose whether or not to be identified.) Together we are breaking the silence and inviting justice to roll down like water.


Ruth Everhart is an author, speaker, and Presbyterian pastor. Her next book about #MeToo and the church is forthcoming from InterVarsity Press in fall 2019. She is the solo pastor of Hermon Presbyterian Church (Bethesda, MD). Connect on Instagram: ruth.everhart, FB: RuthEverhartAuthor, Twitter: @rutheverhart.

Cheryl Prose spent nearly two decades as an adjunct professor of Religion in a private liberal arts college. She now spends much of her time sharing stories of those who have been sexually harassed and/or assaulted—many of those episodes having ties to the church and other religious entities. You can follow the MeToo_Art_Project on Instagram.

The Work of the People, Done Over Coffee: The Liturgy Collective

by Sharon Core

The Busboys and Poets Liturgical Collective takes the Presbyterian belief of connectionalism seriously!  One day, while meeting at Busboys and Poets (Shirlington; Arlington, VA), three Presbyterian ministers wondered why there weren’t more collaborative efforts among churches, especially when it came to planning worship.  These three ministers also acknowledged that as solo pastors, having others to meet and plan with would be a godsend!  The three congregations and their ministers were:  Arlington Presbyterian Church (Sharon Core), Church of the Covenant (Beth Goss) and Clarendon Presbyterian Church (David Ensign).

Working with Advent texts, the collective wrote liturgy that each congregation used during the four Sundays of Advent.  Each congregation took responsibility for a Sunday—choosing hymns, prayers, responsive readings and “practicing the faith” opportunities.  In addition to writing liturgy together, the three congregations shared preachers.  On the first and fourth Sundays of Advent, each minister was in her/his own pulpit and on the second and third Sundays preached in the other two pulpits.

The Collective expanded for Lent, inviting Fairlington Presbyterian Church (Leslianne Braunstein) and NEXT Church director Jessica Tate.  For the Lenten season, the collective is focusing on Lent as a journey as we follow the journey of Jesus.  Again, each congregation/person is taking responsibility for a Sunday, writing the liturgy that each church will share.  In addition to the Sundays of Lent, there are also cooperative efforts for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship.

Future plans include sharing worship during the summer—Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day.

Questions?   Contact any member of the collective:  Leslianne Braunstein (Leslianne@LBraunstein.us), Sharon Core (pastor@arlingtonpresbyterian.org), David Ensign (revdocdee@gmail.com), Susan Graceson (sgraceson@hotmail.com), Beth Goss (JBethGoss@aol.com), or Jessica Tate (revjetate@gmail.com).


Sharon Core is pastor of Arlington Presbyterian Church.