Aussie link to Christian counsellor 'Who Left a Trail of Trauma'

A high profile Christian Counsellor, June Dabler, has been found unfit for the reconciliation ministry she has run with clients such as Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), Mars Hill Church, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS).

As reported by Christianity Today, a “panel of three Christian conciliators – originally requested by Dabler in response to allegations of misconduct – concluded in July that she is disqualified for all further conciliation work.”

The panel led by Ken Sande, the founder of Peacemaker Ministries found a pattern in which  Dabler “consistently favoured the person paying the bills, siding with the leader or big-name institution. Again and again, interviews and documents obtained by CT show, it was the less powerful party—the victim of sexual harassment, the beleaguered employee, the hurt congregant—who was pressured to make confessions they weren’t comfortable with and settle for agreements they thought were unfair.”

David French, a conservative commentator formerly of National Review, had reported Dabler’s role at RZIM where she was hired as part of the institution’s response to the sexual abuse allegations against founder Ravi Zacharias. According to Christianity Today Dabler withdrew from the panel’s process after it accepted the version of events put forward by ex-staffers of RZIM.

Eternity can fill in a gap in the story – a period of time she spent in Australia. She taught at Christ college, the Presbyterian theological seminary in Sydney, and the NSW Presbyterians offered “biblical peacemaking” day-long seminars for churches in conjunction with Peacewise Ministries.

John McClean Vice-Principal of the College confirmed that Dabler taught in 2014 and/or 2015, but also that the College is unaware of any student complaints.

Bruce Burgess National Director of PeaceWise tells Eternity that “Judy Dabler came and taught as a co-trainer for PeaceWise in Australia in some of its earlier years as a ministry, last teaching for us in 2014.”

PeaceWise has issued this statement: “PeaceWise is heartbroken and grieved to read of the hurt and damage caused to people that Judy Dabler worked within the United States. We are praying for justice and healing for all of those who have been damaged and wounded.

“We have no knowledge of the cases described in the Christianity Today article.  Having said this, we want to say in the clearest possible terms that any form of abuse, sexual misconduct or bias in conciliation work are the antithesis of Christ’s teaching, and as peacemakers, we stand against them.  We have written this article some years ago in relation to abuse.”

Similarly the Presbyterian Church of NSW Mission and Missionary Committee “is deeply saddened to read the article about Judy Dabler recently published by Christianity Today. Judy voluntarily stepped down from all ministry and training commitments with us earlier this year. Her formal statement can be found here.

“Ministry and Mission has not received any complaints about Judy or the ministry and training she conducted in NSW at our invitation. Her work has in fact been widely appreciated. However, we wish to make it clear that we abhor abuse, sexual misconduct, misuse of power, and victimization of any kind.

“Ministry and Mission invites anyone who has been hurt or harmed through Judy’s work with us to share your concerns. Please contact [email protected]. Alternatively, you may wish to contact Jericho Road’s Presbyterian Counselling Service at [email protected].

“Ministry and Mission seeks to undertake biblical peacemaking ministries with integrity, paying careful attention to the needs and context of those we are serving. We continue to review our processes for best practice and are receptive to hearing feedback through the contact details above. We believe that biblical peacemaking is of great value for individuals and churches, and we will continue to offer peacemaking services.

“We are praying for all those impacted and look forward to the day when God will wipe away every tear and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:4).”

Matthew Oates, the PCNSW Superintendent – Mission and Ministry Superintendent told Eternity “We’re sending a copy of this statement to everyone who’s attended training we organised with Judy.”

PeaceWise described how they safeguard against some of the concerns about Christian Peacemaking raised by the Judy Dabler matter:

  • lack of accountability
  • lack of recognition of power differentials within conflict
  • bias in favour of the person paying for the services
  • lack of understanding of abuse

PeaceWise seeks to avoid these problems. They have a list of steps taken to have genuine and fair resolutions which include:

  • mediations always have two mediators and not one
  • the mediators recommended are chosen having regard to the particular circumstances of the case
  • the parties have an opportunity for a support person to be present
  • there is a formal request for feedback at the end of the mediation
  • a formal complaints process is available
  • we do not take on cases where we believe that the mediation process is not genuine and is being used simply as a step towards another predetermined outcome (e.g. termination of someone’s services)

“We continue to believe that appropriately conducted biblical peacemaking remains a viable and God-pleasing way to address a wide range of personal and organisational conflicts.”

Burgess adds “I encourage us all to seek to be a positive peacemaking presence in any conversation around this area – to be concerned for justice and truth, and to show grace and kindness as well.”