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Breaking the silence of violence in the church

BREAKING THE SILENCE Breaking the silence of violence in the church

Dr. Mary Walton and Dr. Gayle

Breaking the silence of violence in the church

By Dianne Anderson

Special to the NNPA from the Precinct Reporter

     About the only thing harder to take than mixing politics and religion is mixing religion and domestic violence.

    Brutality against women of the Old Testament is the tough love message that local pastor Dr. Mary Walton has made her life’s calling to bring to the church.

    She has witnessed the silent killer in the pews.

    Those are strong words, she admits, but she personally knows cases connected with church settings where tragedy has hit, and how the problem of domestic violence continues to be ignored by many clergy.

    “When someone in your congregation is murdered or injured, or kidnapped, if it’s in the congregation you have got to do something about it,” said Rev. Walton, senior management adviser at Interval House.

    Back when she was working for her doctorate in the ministry, she opened her arguments examining domestic violence, murders and suicide in the Black church, mostly at the hands of long-standing members and pastors. Her message usually falls on deaf ears.

    But not this month, which is

Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

    On Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012 she delivers her program at Holman United Methodist Church at the request of Rev. Calvin Sauls. On KJLH, she will potentially reach thousands of listeners live from 11 a.m. until noon.

    She is also excited to be working with Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches, where she conducts support groups to talk to the congregation about a problem that the Center for Disease Control reports impacts one-fourth of all American women.

    While more progressive churches seem to be taking giant steps in making their congregations aware, many other churches are still taking baby steps, she said. They refuse to raise the sensitive subject to their members.

    Over the weekend, her Inter-faith Project had a strong turn-out of men and women with featured speakers Rev. Carolyn Baskin-Bell, the pastor of Rose of Sharon AME Church in Norwalk,and Rabbi Howard O. Laibson of Congregation Shir Chadash in Lakewood. Also at-tending, Imam Ameen A. Omar from Asjid-Al Shareef mosque in Long Beach, Pastor Sandra Dennis of the Rock Christian Fellow, and Dr. O. Leon Wood, Jr. of the Long Beach freedom school.

    Rev. Walton said a big part of the problem is that while the Old Testament stories are compelling, providing a backdrop of heroism and vanquishing enemies, many churches still gloss over or ignore misogyny, gang rape, murder and stoning, or using women to produce children.

    It is a far step away from the Christ of the New Testament.

    “You find Jesus including women in his inner circle, women traveling with him, even financing the ministry,” she said. “Jesus had revolutionary radical acts of love, inclusiveness and liberation, and that’s the Gospel.”

    Her African American Network for Violence Free Relationships has been partially funded for two years by Blue Shield of California Foundation. The project is one of 14 funded statewide, and one of only four chosen to target the Black community.

    Interval House, a private nonprofit organization, is a combination emergency shelter for up to 50 women and children at any given time. They have over 100 beds at 14 short-term and long-term transitional facilities, pulling clients from Los Angeles and Orange counties for education, counseling and legal advocacy.

    Ironically, that program started its project with one residence in Seal Beach in 1980, the home of a domestic violence related massacre earlier this year.

    Each year, Interval House services thousands of women annually with 60 full- or part-time staff, many volunteers, and a federally funded Americorps project.

    Dr. Walton, the program’s original executive director, left in 1990 to pursue her education. Currently, she’s back on staff as a senior management consultant focused on faith-based services.

    Through Creating a Safe Environment Interfaith Domestic Violence project, she hopes to break the silence in the Black community.

    “This is a problem; we don’t talk about it most of the time. It spills over into our community creating chaos and violence that perpetuates itself,” she said.

 While more progressive churches seem to be taking giant steps in making their congregations aware, many other churches are still taking baby steps, she said. They refuse to raise the sensitive subject to their members.

     Over the weekend, her Interfaith Project had a strong turnout of men and women with featured speakers Rev. Carolyn Baskin-Bell, the pastor of Rose of Sharon AME Church in Norwalk,and Rabbi Howard O. Laibson of Congregation Shir Chadash in Lakewood. Also attending, Imam Ameen A. Omar from Asjid-Al Shareef mosque in Long Beach, Pastor Sandra Dennis of the Rock Christian Fellow, and Dr. O. Leon Wood, Jr. of the Long Beach Freedom School.

     Rev. Walton said a big part of the problem is that while the Old Testament stories are compelling, providing a backdrop of heroism and vanquishing enemies, many churches still gloss over or ignore misogyny, gang rape, murder and stoning, or using women to produce children.

     It is a far step away from the Christ of the New Testament.

     “You find Jesus including women in his inner circle, women traveling with him, even financing the ministry,” she said. “Jesus had revolutionary radical acts of love, inclusiveness and liberation, and that’s the Gospel.”

     Her African American Network for Violence Free Relationships has been partially funded for two years by Blue Shield of California Foundation. The project is one of 14 funded statewide, and one of only four chosen to target the Black community.

     Interval House, a private nonprofit organization, is a combination emergency shelter for up to 50 women and children at any given time. They have over 100 beds at 14 short-term and long-term transitional facilities, pulling clients from Los Angeles and Orange counties for education, counseling and legal advocacy.

     Ironically, that program started its project with one residence in Seal Beach in 1980, the home of a domestic violence related massacre earlier this year.

     Each year, Interval House services thousands of women annually with 60 full- or part-time staff, many volunteers, and a federally funded Americorps project.

     Dr. Walton, the program’s original executive director, left in 1990 to pursue her education. Currently, she’s back on staff as a senior management consultant focused on faith-based services.

     Through Creating a Safe Environment Interfaith Domestic Violence project, she hopes to break the silence in the Black community.

     “This is a problem; we don’t talk about it most of the time. It spills over into our community creating chaos and violence that perpetuates itself,” she said.

 

 

 

 

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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