From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Societal Violence Initiative Team Addresses

Date 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 
next year. 
     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 
by men. 
       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 
white women. 
       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   Web page: 


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