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Apr 23, 2021

This past week, the wonderful Mormon mental, spiritual, and sex therapist Natasha Helfer Parker was scheduled to defend herself in a membership council called by the stake presidency in her former stake in Kansas (even though she had moved to Salt Lake City sixteen months earlier). Six friends, including Jana Spangler and Jody England Hansen, two of the women in this podcast episode, were also scheduled to testify on her behalf, and many more were holding a support vigil in a pavilion on the stake center's property, including our other panelist, Shandra Harris. Many things went haywire that evening--as well as in the weeks leading up to that scheduled council--and this podcast shares those stories here. Ultimately, neither Natasha, Jana, Jody, nor four others who had been approved to give testimony before the stake presidency were allowed to participate as promised. It was an emotionally and spiritually painful evening for all there as well as for many others who witnessed it vicariously. The toll from this devastatingly wrong-headed and massively mis-executed council is yet to be measured.

In addition to going through the events herein, we have chosen to focus on the vital spiritual role of witnessing, even when it's witnessing the abuse of others.  Being witnessed is a big part of what allows someone to stay strong and, perhaps, eventually find comfort and peace. Witnessing involves, as Jody shares in this episode, the ability to stay in the present moment even in times of great suffering. Witnessing also extends past the event(s) as continued care for others' well being, especially as they experience the inevitable ups and downs that come with continued processing of their grief and anger. 

No one wishes that any of the events that occurred around Natasha's council ever happened. It was unfair and abusive from the very beginning. But we all also know that for our own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being that we must ultimatelyfind our way to healing, for it is in these processes that we discover our own true strength, along with a new, larger, more magnificent God than our old paradigms had ever allowed us to imagine. May this discussion be a stepping stone on the healing journeys for all who choose to listen.