Sunday is the most violent day of the week, experts say.
Domestic violence is a reality in all of our communities, and we as the Church must admit that and work to end it. I am asking all North Texas United Methodists, lay and clergy, young people and adults, to come together to say no to domestic violence.
Here are a few examples of how to begin our work together.
Pastors will not tell domestic violence victims to go home and be better wives. They will listen to them and offer to help.
Laity will not ask “Why does she stay?” They will ask him, “Why are you hurting her?”
Youth will know that dating violence is unacceptable.
And even the abusers in our midst will know that their behavior must stop and that counseling and other forms of help are available.
We are a compassionate, empathetic annual conference. We know that there is a problem and we care about others.
The Bible teaches that we are to have loving relationships built on the love of Christ as found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
The United Methodist Social Principles state that: Family violence and abuse in all its forms — verbal, psychological, physical, sexual — is detrimental to the covenant of the human community. We encourage the Church to provide a safe environment, counsel and support for the victims. While we deplore the actions of the abuser, we affirm that person to be in need of God’s redeeming love.
Good old common sense tells us that men never hit women or children.
I encourage the laity and clergy of the NTC to do something to bring domestic violence to an end. I have been active in domestic violence awareness and prevention efforts for years. While serving in the Central Texas Annual Conference, I was on the board of Women’s Haven, now Safe Haven, for 12 years.
The annual conference is seeking to equip the lay and clergy with the tools to make a difference. Everyone can do something.
We have partnerships with two of Dallas’ domestic violence shelters, Genesis Women’s Shelter and the Family Place; both are led by UMC laywomen. Genesis, under the leadership of Jan Langbein of Highland Park UMC, will travel to any of our churches to train the church and leadership on prevention and education.
The Family Place, under the leadership of Paige Flink of University Park, has partnered with Union Coffee House to produce S.O.S., for Safe on Sunday, a regional campaign. The campaign plans two training events for pastors in September. You can read more about their program in the September issue of The NTC Connection.
The October NTC Connection will feature an article on teen dating violence from Hope’s Door in Plano, with UMC laywoman Vanessa Vaughter leading it.
There is a special page on our conference website dedicated to information and help in this area. The page also includes a section for you to list what your church is doing to help this effort.
Will you and your congregation lift up domestic violence awareness? Get involved, make a difference, and perhaps save a life.
Bishop Michael McKee
North Texas Annual Conference