Launching in 2017: SAFER, a Common Grace resource equipping Australian Christians to address Domestic and Family Violence.
Content warning: discussion of family violence
The Christian story is rich with the news of God’s passionate love for the oppressed and the vulnerable. Jesus always protects those in trouble and exposes evil. And God’s church is to be a place where resurrection life has broken in and relations between women, men and all creation are right and gracious, transformed by God’s Spirit. The promised future we all await is one of peace and justice, where violence and tears are banished and where Jesus reigns in loving service. We cry for God’s Kingdom to come!
I am thankful that when my situation reached crisis point, I was given clear counsel by well-informed and trained people within the Anglican church system, including a rector, an Anglicare social worker, and a counsellor, all of whom understood the dynamics of domestic violence and could help me see my situation clearly and think through my options. The counsel and practical help I got from these church workers and leaders undoubtedly saved my life. – Helen (survivor of abuse in marriage).
We praise God that, more and more, there are churches and Christians who are recognising that domestic and family violence is far more prevalent than it should be within and outside the church, and are acting to ensure real change is made. We have been deeply encouraged by seeing both inter- and cross-denominational responses to domestic and family violence, and we celebrate the commitments church leaders have made to ensure that their churches are safe communities for women, children and families. Below are some examples of the variety of programs and initiatives that we’ve encountered, at both national and state levels.
New South Wales:
Anglican Diocese of Sydney’s taskforce - This domestic violence taskforce has been formed with the aim of improving the education of clergy, church workers, and lay membership in preventing and responding to domestic and family violence.
NSW & ACT Baptist Churches Association have published a Domestic Violence Guide for Churches
Queensland Churches Together: Joint Churches Domestic Violence Prevention Project (JCDVPP) - A coalition of 16 member churches in Queensland established the JCDVPP in 1991 to address the problem by raising the awareness of clergy and lay people through the publication of literature and workshops.
Churches of Christ, Gladstone: HopeLINK is a support group for men experiencing family crisis
South Australian Council of Churches (SACC) - The SACC has developed a Domestic Violence Handbook for Clergy and Pastoral Workers
Uniting Church South Australia - The Uniting Church in South Australia has created the Beyond Violence campaign in order to support respectful relationships by educating and bringing ‘awareness of domestic violence to individuals, people in placements and pastoral carers’.
Baptist Union of Victoria (BUV) - Over the last 18 months, the BUV has been equipping and informing Baptist church workers in various different spheres to respond well to victims and perpetrators. They have also developed a partnership with Crossway and NewHope Baptist Churches, to develop a church leader training pilot program that focuses on providing safe communities for women.
Anglican Diocese of Melbourne: Anglicans Helping to Prevent Violence Against Women - The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne provide resources to churches on domestic and family violence, along with advocating for preventative approaches to domestic and family violence which foreground a ‘Biblical commitment to gender equality, respectful gender relations and freedom from violence’.
International Anglican Women’s Network: this website has a number of different resources that you can be used to become more informed about issues affecting women around the world.
World Vision Australia has been involved in developing a program called Channels of Hope to bring biblical teaching on gender relations and domestic and family violence in the Solomon Islands. This clip introduces the program.
PRAY ABOUT IT
Thank you, God, that you are able to do powerful things in and through our churches.
Thank you that you have made us see domestic and family violence more clearly for the sin it is against you and the people you love.
We praise you that you have the power to change each of us – from the inside out. Make us more aware, and enable us to act on our awareness. Give us vision to see hope and more loving ways forward. Please work in each of us so that we can help our churches be places of care, safety, justice and truth for everyone.
Common Grace's Domestic & Family Violence Justice Team's strategy is two-fold: to support the church in Australia as it seeks to 'get our house in order' AND to call the Australian government to urgent, well-resourced action. At present we are working to launch a new resource in 2017, SAFER, a Common Grace resource equipping Australian Christians to address Domestic and Family Violence, read more about it here. If you would like to contribute to it in any way, we'd love to hear from you here.