On November 4, a dreary Saturday morning, twelve ministers and a facilitator gathered at the First Christian Church in Cameron to participate in a workshop entitled A Training Workshop on Spiritual Response to Domestic and Sexual Violence. It is not a topic very many people know much about. It is also a topic people don’t want to talk about. All the more reason to present the workshop.
The facilitator was Meghann Kosman, a Court/Victim Advocate at the Maryville Children and Family Center. One by one, Meghann led the group through the different kinds of domestic and sexual abuse that exist; what the signs of abuse were that they needed to watch for; where the individuals caught in this environment could go for help if they needed it. She challenged the participants' preconceptions and stereotypes and provided alternative understanding to why and how an individual finds themselves in an abusive and violent situation.
The group participated in some simulation based training, putting themselves “In The Shoes” of the different people who find themselves victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. The participants learned that it is not unusual for a person caught in this situation to be experiencing both kinds of violence, domestic and sexual. That presents challenges for helping them find a way out, especially the teenagers. This was an intensive workshop experience that challenged everyone in the room to not only look at these issues with a new perspective, but to make sure this new perspective focused on finding ways to develop a viable, healing, spiritual response to a situation in which people often find themselves feeling hopeless.
What did the participants learn? Well, according to the evaluations they turned in, the workshop exceeded their expectations. They learned that as long as this subject remains hidden, tucked away from our day-to-day lives, there will be more and more victims. They learned that domestic and sexual abuse are often connected and are a manifestation of misusing power and control. They learned that economic abuse, emotional abuse, and using isolation and intimidation of the victims all contribute to what is called a cycle of violence.
The event was organized by Rev. Terry Robison, pastor of First Christian Church in Burlington Junction and Pickering Christian Church. Terry also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Northwest Office Commissioning Ministry Team (CMT), which was challenged by the Chair to develop local continuing education opportunities. Because of the success of this workshop, plans are being made to present it again after the first of the year, possibly early Spring. Watch the News Update for information on time and place.
November 4th was a dreary day in Cameron Missouri. But, the opportunity to participate in this workshop may help the participants make someone’s life brighter. And that is what continuing education is supposed to be about, not just getting the necessary hours to meet a requirement but to continue to learn how to be a good, caring, helpful minister. The twelve participants in this workshop learned skills they might not otherwise have. And perhaps, one day, in some place, someone’s life may end up being changed because someone heard their cry for help and reached out to them. This is the power of education.
This story is a portion of the complete report submitted by Rev. Patrick Overton,
pastor of Arrow Rock Federated Church and chair of the NW CMT.
See his original document for more details on the planning, execution,
and evaluation of this event.