Profiles On Robert Pardon
“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private; and therefore, starved for meditation and true friendship.” C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis is a favorite author of Robert Pardon, M.Div., Th.M. When Lewis wrote the above statement about the lack of solitude and true friendship, he might have been describing the reality in which so many cult members find themselves. It was in order to respond to that desperate reality that Reverend Pardon, along with others, founded MeadowHaven, a long-term rehabilitation facility, which opened in 2002.
Earlier on, during his 15 years as a church minister, Rev. Pardon had begun to sense the need for a place where those abused by cults could find refuge. Eventually, he and several others were able to acquire a building in Massachusetts that had previously been used as a nursing home. After extensive renovation and repair, they opened the residence to former cult members, with Rev. Pardon as Executive Director. Because it is a full-time facility, people who have exited cults may stay for as long as a year. There they can gain the peace and solitude necessary to heal from the often horrific cultic experience they have endured.
In discussing his work, Reverend Pardon says that he feels “enriched by having the privilege of sharing in the pain of others.” He loves his work and feels that his own experience has been enhanced by “knowing our efforts have literally saved some lives.”
Bob Pardon studied at the University of Michigan, earning a B.A. in Religious Studies, followed by a Master’s in Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Master’s in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.
For eight years he pastored a church in Middleboro, Massachusetts and then, for seven years another church in Watertown, Massachusetts. It was during this time that he was confronted by what he describes as people “brutalized in the name of God.” With the Bible at the center of his life, he felt the need to respond to the suffering he saw. Always striving for personal integrity, and “a deeper walk with Christ,” he was compelled to get training himself in dealing with the unique and complex issues that ex- cult members have to deal with.
Reverend Pardon works alongside his wife, Judy, the Associate Director, at the center. They have five children: Traci, Becki, Christine, Caron, and David and share their life with Cooper, a cairn terrier, the center’s resident therapy dog.
C.S. Lewis once said, “The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift,” and this seems to be the guiding principle of MeadowHaven; Rev. Pardon shares that the thing he finds most inspiring is “seeing severely damaged lives salvaged and made meaningful.”
MeadowHaven is located in Lakeville, Massachusetts. Rev. Robert Pardon is also Executive Director of the New England Institute for Religious Research.