During the past week there have been several articles and documentaries on the ABC that have addressed domestic violence and religion in Australia (including this one by Julia Baird).
As Moderator of the Uniting Church in South Australia, I want to assure all members that the Uniting Church does not condone any form of domestic violence. Any form of violence is totally against Jesus’ teachings and is incompatible with God’s mission.
The significance of this stance has been demonstrated through our Code of Ethics and Safe Church training programs (which contain domestic violence modules). Code of Ethics and Safe Church training is mandatory and requires ministers to attend regular refreshers as part of their ongoing professional supervision.
The Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice states that all pastoral relationships in our Church should be characterised by the love, care and compassion that was embodied in the life of Jesus Christ.
The Uniting Church in South Australia was also the first to launch the ‘Beyond Violence‘ campaign under the leadership of Dr Deidre Palmer, the past Moderator of the Uniting Church SA and the President-Elect.
Beyond Violence aims to raise awareness of, and educate Church communities about, the dynamics of domestic violence, provide guidance for pastoral workers on how to respond to victims and perpetrators, and highlight the importance of respectful, gender-equal relationships as a protective factor against family violence. The campaign also promotes the widely-used Domestic Violence Handbook for Clergy and Pastoral Workers which was created in conjunction with Uniting Communities.
Many people living with domestic or family violence suffer in silence and are unsure of where they can safely turn for help*.
I would like to call church members to join me in praying for anyone who has been, or continues to be, subjected to or affected by family or domestic violence. I pray that God will enlighten those living in violent situations and provide them with wisdom to see when things are not right within their relationships. I pray that ministry leaders can create safe, respectful and supportive environments so that women and men experiencing domestic violence feel safe to seek help.
Grace & peace,
Rev Sue Ellis
Uniting Church in South Australia
*Lifeline (131 114) is a 24-hour helpline that offers support and counselling for personal crisis. Other organisations, services and helplines addressing domestic violence are listed on the Beyond Violence website here.