By Teresa Pollard and Candi Pullen
Not Guilty is the story of Carrie Shepherd, daughter of the minister of Windspree Community Church, who was brutally raped by a masked intruder as she was walking along the path to her home. She was so traumatized by the attack, she told no one, not even her parents or her fiancé, and certainly not the police. After all, she says, “What would I tell them? I was raped by a giant in a ski mask?” Now she’s pregnant. Refusing an abortion, although they became legal the year before, she finally tells her parents, who in turn convince her fiancé, Joe Wright, a young seminary student, to come home and find out the truth from her. She tells him and finds to her astonishment that he still loves her, wants to marry her, and help to raise the child. So they move up their wedding date. Gossip and rumors begin to spread.
As the rumors grow, and Carrie and Joe go through some counseling sessions, they begin to share the truth with their friends and anyone else willing to hear it, but a few of the ladies of the church write a harshly worded letter to the mission board, and their appointment as missionaries to Africa seems to be in extreme jeopardy.
The novel is written in the form of a mystery, and the rapist is revealed at the end. However, the theme of the book is that the church is one body, and that what hurts one member of the body affects all the members of the body. And conversely, working together to heal one member (or one non-member) can aid in healing the entire congregation. Instead of spreading gossip and rumors, we are to be about the business of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.
Study questions are included at the end.