From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Societal Violence Initiative Team Addresses
04 May 1996 15:23:15
96075 Societal Violence Initiative Team Addresses
Violence Against Women
by Julian Shipp
CHICAGO-- Presented with alarming statistics and rooted in the belief that
"in sovereign love God created the world good," the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) Societal Violence Initiative Team continued its work addressing
violence against women Feb. 8-11.
Appointed last July by the General Assembly Council (GAC), the
seven-member team searched for ways to help Presbyterians work toward
contributing to a society that is increasingly violence free. The work of
the team, envisioned for a two-year period, will focus on violence against
women the first year and include broader issues of societal violence the
The statistics, according to the Center for the Prevention of Sexual
and Domestic Violence in Seattle, are frightening:
The number one health risk to women in the U.S. is violent attacks
One in three girls are sexually abused by age 18.
A woman is 10 times more likely to be raped than to die in a car
African-American women are almost twice as likely to be raped as
Thirty-five to 40 percent of battered women attempt suicide.
Virginia (Jinny) K. Miller, a GAC member from Mishawaka, Ill., said
this is the first major programmatic effort by the PC(USA) to focus on
violence against women.
"It is most gratifying that the PC(USA) has assembled this team to
address the issue of societal violence, especially as it is directed toward
women and children," said Loretta Bradley of Knoxville, Tenn., a team
liaison from the Presbyterian Women Churchwide Coordinating Team.
The group adopted a theological statement written by team members the
Rev. James Poling, professor of pastoral theology and counseling at
Colgate-Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y., and the Rev. Thelma
Burgonio-Watson, staff person at the Center for the Prevention of Sexual
and Domestic Violence (CPSDV) in Seattle. The statement was inspired by the
article "Picking Up the Broken Pieces: Responding to Domestic Violence" by
the Rev. Marie Fortune in the January/February 1995 issue of "Church &
Society" magazine. Fortune, CPSDV founder and executive director, is a
psychologist and a United Church of Christ minister.
According to the statement, "it is critical that we address the issue
of violence against women for two reasons. The first reason is pastoral.
Our people are hurting and need to know that they can come to their church
for support and information. When they come, they need to find church
leaders prepared to assist them.
"The second reason is moral. In many previous statements and programs,
the PC(USA) has addressed issues of war and peace and opposed violence in
many forms, including the family. However, we have too often been silent
and have lacked the courage to do all we can do to prevent violence against
women. We must strengthen our commitment to address violence against
In order to help congregations address these issues, Miller said, the
team will compile and distribute a packet of resources featuring some of
the best material on violence against women currently available. She said
the packet should be available this summer.
Worship resources and a new hymn by the Rev. Elaine McRobbie of
Ridgecrest, Calif., will also be included in the packet. Jeremiah 22:3's
"Do no wrong or violence" will underscore the work of the team as it
continues under the theme "Confronting Violence Against Women: The Church's
"We were amazed to find such a wealth of excellent materials," said
the Rev. David Zuverink, associate for health ministries (U.S.A.) in the
National Ministries Division.
Miller said plans are also being made for a training event that will
help prepare church leaders to address issues of violence against women.
These leaders will then be available to train or assist others in their
congregations, presbyteries and synods.
"Church leaders need to be better equipped to confront and deal with
this problem," Miller said.
Other team members include GAC member Maria L. Yee of Stockton,
Calif.; Ernest S. Edwards, Jr., associate executive presbyter, Louisville
Presbytery, Louisville, Ky.; Peggy Barnett of Long Beach, Calif.; and
Reginald Thomas of Mountain View, Calif. The Rev. Susan H. Craig is staff
coordinator for the team. Elected liaisons and staff representatives from
the Congregational, National and Worldwide Ministries Divisions also
support the team's work.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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