From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Violence Against Women And Children Chosen

Date 04 May 1996 19:55:45


95423       Violence Against Women And Children Chosen 
         as Focus of PC(USA) Ecumenical Decade Committee 
                         by Julian Shipp 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Churchwide Ecumenical 
Decade Committee has determined that its efforts for the remaining three 
years of the World Council of Churches (WCC) "Ecumenical Decade: Churches 
in Solidarity with Women" will focus on issues of religion and theology 
that have served to perpetuate violence against women and children. 
     According to PC(USA) committee co-chairs Alice Nishi of Davis, Calif., 
and Manley Olson of St. Paul, Minn., the group chose Seattle for its Oct. 
26-29 meeting because the city is the location of the Center for Prevention 
of Sexual and Domestic Violence, one of the leading programs of its type in 
the world.  October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 
     "I think that the basis of concern for women and violence, especially 
in our denomination, is to be based on perspectives of theology that come 
out of the study of the Bible," Nishi said. "There has to be more 
discussion and study written out and understood." 
     "I think that so much of the violence against women also involves 
children," Olson said. "It's awfully hard to separate one from the other 
because so much of the violence is within families." 
     The Ecumenical Decade Committee defines such violence as attitudes and 
actions that demean or dehumanize women and children psychologically, 
physically, economically, spiritually, racially and sexually as well as 
some other ways. During the meeting, held at the Lutheran Bible Institute, 
the committee also met jointly with the PC(USA) Advocacy Committee for 
Women's Concerns. 
     Members of both committees shared their goals, concerns, and the 
nature of their work in an attempt to explore the possibilities of working 
together on shared issues. Both committees also agreed that the dialogues 
were a mutually empowering experience. 
     According to the Rev. Susan H. Craig, associate director for women's 
ministries in the National Ministries Division, Presbyterian Women and the 
PC(USA) have long worked with the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and 
Domestic Violence and have supported its programs and resource development. 
     On Oct. 27, Craig said, the center's executive director, Marie 
Fortune, program director Thelma Burgonio-Watson, and resource director 
Jean Anton met with committee members for theological discussion and 
     Although the WCC Ecumenical Decade Committee commended the 
denomination in its formation of an Initiative Team to specifically further 
its goals in the area of violence against women, Olson said the committee 
would also like the PC(USA) to name the arena of ministry to abused persons 
as a  mission priority for the denomination, as has already been done in 
the United Methodist Church. 
     "[Domestic violence] is one of those issues that, whether the church 
likes it or not, is there," Olson said. "It happens in all families, not 
just those who don't attend church, and we've never looked at it as a 
mission area of the church." 
     In 1988, the General Assembly elected the PC(USA) Churchwide 
Ecumenical Decade Committee to spearhead the denomination's participation 
in the WCC program. After the U.N. called for its third women's decade, the 
WCC established its own decade to call Christian churches to accountability 
with regard to women's issues. 
     The U.N.'s Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in 
September. The third conference, held in 1985, concluded that women 
globally were less well off than they were at the time of the first 
conference in 1975. 
     A significant achievement at the Beijing conference was the drafting 
of the "Platform for Action" for the advancement of women. This document 
contains strategies to be carried out by governments nationally, 
internationally and regionally to the year 2000 and beyond. 
     Following approval by the 1995 General Assembly, the committee is 
planning a celebration for the 1998 Assembly titled "Ecumenical Decade: 
Churches in Solidarity with Women--Toward the Year 2000." The celebration 
will honor the goals and accomplishments of the ecumenical decade and chart 
future denominational efforts. 
     Olson said tribute awards to congregations, presbyteries and synods 
that have developed programs dealing with violence against women will be 
part of the event. Moreover, the WCC plans to celebrate antiviolence 
programs in a pre-Assembly conference to its next meeting in 1998 in 
Harare, Zimbabwe. 
     But the WCC's and the denomination's efforts won't stop at the end of 
the decade, according to Olson and Nishi. Olson said that one of the things 
the committee did at their meeting was  appoint a board to make 
recommendation on this issue for the next millennium.  

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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