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Dickinson College to Host Talk on Responding to Sexual Violence in Religious Communities

The Annual Wesley Lecture

by Norah Mitchell '21

Marie Fortune

Marie Fortune

Renowned theologian, ethicist and expert in responding to clergy misbehavior Marie Fortune will give the annual Wesley Lecture at Dickinson. “Wolves in Shepherds’ Clothing” will take place Tuesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter (ATS) Auditorium.

Fortune will discuss misconduct by faith leaders and its harm to congregants, congregations and broader faith communities. With each revelation of misconduct and sexual abuse comes great challenges for faith communities, and Fortune will explore how these institutions respond to misconduct with justice, policy and practice to confront painful truths.

Fortune is the founder and senior analyst at FaithTrust Institute, a nonprofit organization offering training for responding to domestic violence, child abuse and sexual violence. Fortune completed her seminary training at Yale Divinity School, and in 1976 she became an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She was the first theologian to write a book about the relationship between sexual violence and religion, 1983’s Sexual Violence: The Unmentionable Sin. She is the author of several other books, the most recent being Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse.

The Wesley Lecture grows out of the historical relationship between Dickinson College and the Methodist Church, which has its roots in the 19th century. The lecture highlights contemporary conversations and controversies in faith communities and in higher education about the importance and role of community, commitment and service for education of the citizen scholar.

A clothesline display for survivors of religious abuse will be on exhibition before and after Fortune’s lecture. If you or a loved one is a survivor and would like to share your story, please consider designing and contributing a T-shirt. Shirts can be placed in a drop-off box at Bosler Memorial Library, 158 W. High St.; Square Bean, 25 W. High St.; Landis House, 101 S. College St.; or the Center for Learning and Civic Action, 239 W. Louther St., from March 17–27. For more information on the Clothesline Project, visit

This lecture is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and the Center for Spirituality & Social Justice, with special thanks to the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. It is co-sponsored by the Women’s & Gender Resource Center, the Community Studies Center and the program in policy studies. It is part of the Clarke Forum’s Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty Series


Published March 9, 2020