June 21, 2018
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Episcopal bishop to discuss book on addiction in Camden

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

CAMDEN, Maine — Retired Bishop Chilton Knudsen, the former head of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, will preach at 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. Sunday at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, 33 Chestnut St.

She will talk about her new book on clergy addiction, “So You Think You Don’t Know One: Addiction and Recovery in Clergy and Congregations.” Knudsen, of Brunswick, co-wrote the book with the Rev. Nancy Van Dyke Platt, a former medical technologist and rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Hallowell.

The book describes “the progression of addiction and co-dependency in the ordained minister and in the congregation, and then suggests options for recovery and healing along with a return to a state of balance and health,” the ministers wrote in the introduction.

Knudsen and Platt use specific case studies to illustrate how addictive behavior in clergy and lay leaders inevitably causes congregational dysfunction. The book also recommends ways congregations can enter into their own recovery toward health and include 12-step recovery programs for clergy and congregations.

“People still put clergy on a pedestal,” Knudsen said earlier this week, “but we have the same common human dilemmas as other people.”

Knudsen also has written about trauma recovery and congregational development. She underwent treatment for alcoholism in 1985 after becoming the first woman to lead an Episcopal congregation in Illinois, according to an Associated Press story published in 2006.

Platt became sober before joining the Episcopal priesthood. She told the AP four years ago that clergy have three special challenges: parishioners’ demands on them and their families; low pay relative to other professionals with graduate training; and the requirement of dealing continually with people’s problems.

“So You Think You Don’t Know One” has been praised by church leaders.

“The authors set out a path for clergy and congregations toward the liberating mindfulness that overcomes denial, and opens the way to healing and transforming power of grace and truth,” Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, the former head of the Episcopal Church in the United States, said of the book.

Knudsen worked as canon for pastoral care for Griswold when he was head of the Diocese of Chicago in the 1990s.

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