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Sex at Church: The Problem of Shame and the Promise of Grace

Psychologist, author and United Methodist elder Karen A. McClintock leads a half-day workshop April 20 at MTSO.

Karen McClintockCombining her experience as a church pastor and psychologist, Karen A. McClintock will address the issue of shame in the church in a workshop at MTSO. “Sex at Church: The Problem of Shame and the Promise of Grace” will take place from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 20 on the MTSO campus.

This workshop, presented by the Theological Commons at MTSO, will provide participants with a look into theologically based sexual shame and active shame dynamics in congregations. Then, using the lens of grace, McClintock will offer ways for congregations and clergy to open up safe and healing conversations, heal sexual wounds, and affirm sexual diversity.

Workshop participants will:

  • Review outdated sexual morality codes from scripture and faith traditions.
  • Gain skills to identify and stop shame in their congregations.
  • Learn to recognize shame in their own lives and reduce shame transference in pastoral leadership.
  • Build confidence to heal the damage left by sexual secrets in family and congregational systems.
  • Learn to manage sexual topics at church with humor, ease and grace.

About the presenter

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”

Wendell Berry
The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Rev. Dr. Karen A. McClintock is an elder in the United Methodist Church, psychologist, author and congregational consultant. Raised in Columbus, she attended seminary at Pacific School of Religion and thereafter worked as a parish pastor and chaplain. She assisted healthcare providers with multiple-loss grief during the AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay area.

For the past 15 years, McClintock has been an adjunct professor at Southern Oregon University, teaching human sexuality and additional courses in the psychology department. She also has a general practice as a psychologist and has taught workshops in more than 40 states on ways to eradicate sexual shame. She is a recipient of the Southern Oregon Lambda Community award for her outspoken advocacy for LGBTQ individuals and their families.

My Father's Closet book coverMcClintock’s book Shame-Less Lives, Grace-Full Congregations (Alban) sheds light on patterns of shame that limit congregational joy and health. Healthy Disclosure in Congregations (Alban) explores professional ethics, communication boundaries, secrets in congregations, and sexual abuse prevention. Preventing Sexual Abuse in Congregations (Alban) is a primer for pastors to abuse-proof churches. Her new book, due to be published in April by Ohio State University’s Trillium Press, is My Father’s Closet, a memoir about growing up with her gay father and her journey to learn more about the secrets her family kept for more than 40 years. Books will be available for purchase at the workshop.

Her websites are and

Location and lodging

The MTSO campus is located on U.S. Route 23. Our address is 3081 Columbus Pike in Delaware, Ohio 43015. Here is a Google map.

Many hotels are within a 10-mile radius of the MTSO campus. Here are TripAdvisor reviews of nearby hotels. Restaurant options also are plentiful. Here are Yelp reviews of nearby restaurants.

Tuition and CEU

Tuition for the workshop is $30, which covers all sessions, afternoon refreshments and one-half continuing education unit. Students may attend for free.