Dear North Alabama Conference,
Recent conversations regarding sexual assault and harassment are a searing reminder that our world is still broken and deeply needs the Church to offer messages and ministries of healing. Many pastors are reporting an increase in survivors’ coming forward to share their stories of assault, harassment and violence. It is so important that, as a faith community, we provide safe space for people to tell their stories and to seek healing.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men over the age of 18 in the United States have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner. Domestic violence is prevalent across the US, and it is likely happening within our own churches and communities.
Within the United Methodist Book of Discipline, our Social Principles provide theological foundation for supporting the humanity of an individual, and they guide our efforts toward eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault. Our Social Principles state:
Violent, disrespectful, or abusive sexual expressions do not confirm sexuality as God’s good gift. We reject all sexual expressions that damage the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression that enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order. (Book of Discipline ❡161.I)
Additionally, it was with great pride that in our 2017 North Alabama Annual Conference, we passed a resolution to raise awareness and advocacy against domestic violence. Together we covenanted to:
The world around us is hungry to hear the Church act upon these social principles that guide our witness and ministry. The world around us is hungry for the Church to offer a prophetic voice and life-giving message that violence has no place in our relationships, in our homes, in our churches, nor in our communities. The world around us is hungry to for the Church to lead the way in seeking healing with our hurting world.
Please join us in praying for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and in living into the 2017 resolution we passed, as we share the Gospel message of love and peace with all.
North Alabama Commission on the Status and Role of Women
A Resolution Concerning Domestic Violence, passed by North Alabama Conference of the UMC in June 2017 www.umcna.org/files/fileshare/cosrow/dv+resolution.pdf
Hidden in Plain Sight Study, a four-session study for United Methodists on the intersections of domestic violence: www.umcjustice.org/news-and-stories/hidden-in-plain-sight-a-call-to-end-domestic-violence-731 (This study was compiled by Thomas Roane, a student at Birmingham-Southern College and a former BSC Wesley Foundation Member to Annual Conference, during his Hess Fellowship at the General Board of Church and Society)
General Resources on Domestic Violence from General Board of Church and Society: www.umcjustice.org/what-we-care-about/women-and-children/domestic-violence
Domestic Violence Webinar from Faith Trust Institute: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/8111960764303564545
Articulating Our Theology, a webinar on Domestic Violence from the General Board of Church and Society: www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-BJNugdQqo&feature=youtu.be
One Place Family Justice Center: https://oneplacebirmingham.com/
YWCA Domestic Violence Services: www.ywcabham.org/domestic-violence-services-and-programs