Congolese Clergy Receive First Sexual Ethics Training

Date Posted: 8/22/2011

A Texas clergy couple, both born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, recently led what is believed to be the first-ever sexual ethics training for United Methodist church leaders in the Congo’s Katanga State to raise awareness about behaviors that lead to sexual misconduct and encourage lay leaders and pastors to care for those being abused.


Two one-day educational trainings were led by the Rev. Kabamba Kiboko, associate pastor of Holy Covenant UMC in Katy, Texas, and her husband the Rev. Kalamba Kilumba, director of the Wesley Foundation at Prairie View A&M University.  The two pastors have served as volunteer mission interpreters and liaisons for the Southern Congo/Zambia Episcopal area since 1986.


Each say frank discussion about sexual abuse and violence—in the church and beyond—is especially important as the Congo has the highest incidence of war rape (Rape as a weapon of war), by the Rev. Kabwita Kayombo, Sex and the Church series, Faith in Action, General Board of Church and Society, July 15. on record. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health reported 48 Congolese women are raped every hour.


After attending a Texas Conference clergy misconduct seminar in 2006, Kiboko and Kilumba shared what they learned with Southern Congo Area Bishop Katembo Kainda. The bishop, in turn, asked them to adapt and bring the training to his episcopal area. So, Mary Tumulty, Texas Conference sexual ethics committee chairperson, trained Kiboko and Kilumba.


In addition, Kiboko attended a January 2011, denomination-wide summit on sexual ethics in Houston. More than 300 Response Team and Safe Sanctuary leaders, bishops and superintendents attended “Do No Harm 2011.”

Kiboko says during their sexual ethics trainings, she and Kilumba trained more than 300 Congolese laity and clergy. The two also served as facilitators for the worldwide April 6 Leadership Summit, she reports.


“The primary goal of the trainings was to initiate a conversation about this taboo subject sexual misconduct,” she says. “We needed to raise consciousness about certain behaviors that lead to sexual misconduct and to encourage church leaders – lay and clergy – to be the keepers of those being abused, especially children and women.”


Kiboko says they used two biblical stories of David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11) and the rape of Tamar (2 Sam. 13) to underscore their discussions about abuse of power and sexual misconduct by ministerial leaders. The couple also talked with participants about clergy self-care and spiritual discipline and sexual victims and perpetrators in the pews. She says they also adapted the Texas Conference’s sexual ethics seminar into the South Congo/Zambia’s culture.


Kiboko says feedback from participants included, “For too long these issues were swept under the rug. This is long overdue for our church. We needed this seminar to bring children and women abuses to the light and deal with them in the open. We need more of these trainings, and need all our pastors and lay leaders to be trained.”

She adds, “Clergywomen came to us … to say thank you. Being a single clergywoman is like a curse [because of sexual harassment by laymen].”


Kiboko adds that Bishop Kainda plans to sponsor sexual ethics training and Safe Sanctuaries throughout his episcopal area.


Heather Peck Stahl is editor of The Flyer, a newsletter published by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.