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1st Sep


“Broken Silence: A Call for Churches to Speak Out”

Broken.  Silence.  Broken.  Silence.

These words mean a great deal to survivors of intimate abuse.

SAIV and our partners would like to see domestic violence included as a component of all theological education.  Our website features examples of  such course curricula.  (See “Partners” and “Theological Education.”)   A new poll of 1,000 pastors shows clearly that pastors often fail to address domestic and sexual violence appropriately.  They consider themselves ill-equipped to respond to incidents of violence.   The poll and the report “Broken Silence” will be the topic of a September community forum in Portland.

Faith Trust Institute, a partner with SAIV, will be offering a free webinar on September 17th entitled, “Back to School: Addressing Gender Violence in Theological Education.”  Presenters are: Rabbi Lisa Gelber, Jewish Theological Seminary; Mary Hunt, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER); Elizabeth Siwo-Okundi, Boston University and Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune, FaithTrust Institute.

The following is taken from the Huffington Post article of June 2014 on this subject, entitled, “Pastors Rarely Preach About Domestic Violence Even Though It Affects Countless Americans.”

Co-sponsored by the Christian nonprofits Sojourners and IMA World Health, the survey also found that pastors were more likely to believe domestic violence was an issue in their community (72%) than an issue in their church (25%).

“I think many pastors still don’t think it exists in their congregation,” Yvonne DeVaughn, director of Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA), told LifeWay.

Broken Silence: Poll Shows Lack of Conversation on
Domestic, Sexual Violence in Churches

This was the title of a SOJOURNERS’ BLOG POST from which the following is taken.  (Jim Wallis and Sojourners were also co-sponsors of the report.)

Violence against women was named as a “significant public health issue” by the World Health Organization in 2013, which reported that 35 percent of women around the globe have experienced sexual or physical abuse by a partner or non-partner. And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the chance of a man experiencing abuse at the hand of an intimate partner was one in four.

What makes this poll unique is that there is not much data on how pastors view and address the issues of domestic and sexual violence. According to Rick Santos, President and CEO of IMA World Health, “there is little information out there about what is actually happening in the U.S. faith community on this issue.”

Despite the poll’s major finding — that pastors underestimate the pervasiveness of sexual and domestic violence in their congregations — the report offers some hope. Of the pastors polled, 81 percent reported that they would “take appropriate action to reduce sexual and domestic violence if they had the training and resources to do so.”

Sojourners recently published I Believe You: Sexual Violence and the Church , a study edited by its president and founder, Jim Wallis, and Catherine Woodiwiss, Associate Web Editor. The study features three essays about women, sexual violence, and their experiences in dealing with their abuse in their churches. It is a step forward in the effort to bring light to an issue that is often cloaked in darkness and to give voices to victims who often feel silenced by the church’s failure to understand the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence.

“This is a conversation the church needs to be having but isn’t,” Wallis said. “We cannot remain silent when our sisters and brothers live under the threat of violence in their homes and communities.”

 “What Religious Leaders Don’t Know About Domestic and Sexual Violence & Why It Matters”

The Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence, IMA World Health, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon,We Will Speak Out!” Campaign and Grace Memorial Episcopal Church are co-sponsoring a community forum on September 4th in Portland, Oregon.  Keynote speaker, Rick Santos, Executive Director of IMA World Health (one of the co-sponsors of this report) will be joined by a panel of local community and faith leaders.

  • Rev. Ron Clark and his wife Lori, author of “Setting the Captives Free” and minister at Agape Church of Christ speaking about clergy training and seminary training concerning domestic violence;
  • Rev. Warren Light, JD of the Wesley Peace Center (University of Oregon) discussing the movement to end rape on college campuses,
  • Randy Ellison (author of “Boys Don’t Tell” book and blog) explaining “Safe Church”, “Darkness to Light” and the UCC Salem 2014 adult education program about intimate abuse
  • Joslyn Baker and Rev. Lynne Smouse Lopez of UCC Ainsworth – talking about their “SPEAK OUT” SUNDAY 2013.

Free Community Forum to be held September 4, 2014

For more information please contact Rhonda Case (Portland Liaison for SAIV) at

For more information about the movement to bring education into all theological schools and seminaries, you may wish to contact:

  • Rev. Dr. Anne Marie Hunter, Director, Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence, Boston, MA.
  • Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune, Founder and Senior Analyst, FaithTrust Institute, Seattle, WA.
  • Karen McLean Hessel, M. Div., Program Advisor, Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence,
  • Dr. Nancy Nienhuis, Dean of Students & Vice President for Strategic InitiativesAndover Newton Theological School,
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Karen Hessel

2014-09-02 18:03:07 Reply

Rhonda Case! your blog is timely and important! I hope it is widely read and well received. Thank you.

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