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Domestic violence series to call individuals and faith communities to accountability

by Louisville Seminary | Jan 31, 2011
Revised (2/17/11) The February 19 seminar, "It Happens in the Nicest Congregations – What Everyone Needs to Know about Domestic Violence" has been rescheduled for April 16.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of religion, race, age, gender, or sexual orientation; it is not restricted to certain individuals of specific socioeconomic or educational levels. And, where domestic violence is present, the affect on family members, friends, co‐workers, other witnesses, and communities, can be damaging.

The Women’s Center at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has taken an active role in raising awareness about the seriousness of domestic violence. Over the next three months, the Center will offer "Mending the World: The Margaret Hopper Taylor Seminars Challenging Domestic Violence," a series of workshops to encourage seminarians, individuals, and faith leaders to become more active in recognizing and standing against domestic violence, even within their own faith communities.

Elizabeth Johnson Walker, Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Louisville Seminary, defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. “Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions, or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behavior that intimidates, manipulates, threatens, blames, hurts, injures, or wounds someone,” she explains.

“The presence of domestic violence in our society compels the church to take a stand to break the silence on behalf of the victims and their abusers,” stated Walker in a sermon she presented during domestic violence awareness month in October. (Sermon, Genesis 16, October 15, 2010, Caldwell Chapel)

“If we are to live into our faith commitments, beginning with the Genesis account that God created human beings in God’s own image and provided them with a vocation of citizenship, good citizenship calls us into faithful relationships with the victims of domestic violence that manifest in love for one another,” she added.

The Women’s Center seeks to honor this call through their workshops, which will address the realities of domestic violence, men’s roles in helping to end domestic violence, and congregational responses to such abuse.

The workshops will be held three Saturdays over the next two months, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Women’s Center on the Louisville Seminary campus. Registration for each event is $12, which helps defray the cost of lunch and materials. Reservations may be made online or by calling the Women’s Center at 502.895.3411, ext. 285. (Online Registration)

Saturday, March 12, 2011 – 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
"Gender Respect: New Directions in Preventing Domestic Violence"
Rus Funk, MSW, founder and director of Menswork, Inc., will lead this interactive seminar that focuses on the ways positive models of masculinity can contribute to the prevention of domestic violence; introduces participants to the concept of gender respect; and examines the challenges and possibilities in cultivating gender respect with young men.

Saturday, April 2, 2011 – 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
"Congregational Responses to Domestic Violence"
Rev. Nancy Troy (MDiv '95), a pastor with more than 20 years experience working in the area of domestic violence and social welfare, leads this interactive seminar that focuses on congregational responses to domestic violence. Participants will explore a range of responses, including worship, education, mission and service, and congregational care.

Saturday, April 16, 2011 – 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
“It Happens in the Nicest Congregations – What Everyone Needs to Know about Domestic Violence”
JoAnn Rowan, MSW, a veteran of the Center for Women and Families, will lead this interactive seminar. Designed to give participants a comprehensive overview of the scope and seriousness of domestic violence, Rowan will also address the impact of the daily reality of domestic violence on the lives of women in faith communities, as well as on the communities themselves. The seminar stands alone, and also prepares participants for subsequent seminars on prevention and congregational responses to domestic violence.

This series honors Margaret Hopper Taylor, a longtime friend and supporter of the Center who attended Louisville Seminary and died of cancer in 1984. Her husband, Seminary Distinguished Alum Rev. Arch Taylor (BD ’45; ThM ’54) is making the workshops possible through a generous gift to the Women’s Center in Margaret’s memory.

“The most deadly consequence of domestic violence is the reluctance of the church to openly acknowledge it and to talk about it loudly followed by action,” says Walker, recounting numerous ways in which the church, throughout history, has looked the other way in situations of domestic abuse.

“God has a future for you and for me in relationships of value,” she encouraged. “So what can we, who call ourselves persons of faith and leaders in our community, do to help highlight the blemish of domestic violence? Moreover how can we measure our efforts at putting an end to domestic violence? Let us begin with a commitment to explore the sources for resisting domestic violence right here on the campus. With that information in mind let us partner with efforts in our communities, families, city, state, and country to resist complicity with the structures in our society that ignore the clarion call to do something now! In other words, let us be accountable by getting and staying involved.”

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