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What does domestic abuse have to do with your faith community?

In every congregation, there are survivors, perpetrators, and victims of domestic abuse and violence.  Faith communities can be an important resource for people experiencing abuse, providing strength and practical support.  Unfortunately, religious doctrine and practice have often been construed in ways that have been debilitating to victims of abuse and violence and supportive of the perpetrators.

Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance has staff available to talk with clergy, congregants, women’s groups, men’s groups, and youth groups about how, in your faith tradition, to foster a culture of joy, respect, dignity, accountability, and safe families.

How can Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance help?

Drawing from rich resources available through the Faith Trust Institute and Bangor Theological Seminary, Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance can assist faith communities in understanding the relationship between personal faith and domestic abuse and in developing responses to support safe sanctuaries.

Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance’s work with faith communities includes:

  • Domestic abuse training to provide people with tools—respectful of their faith traditions—for promoting safety and accountability within their congregations.
  • Awareness-raising activities, which can be appropriately incorporated into a church service as well as into small group meetings.
  • Consultations with clergy to explore how their churches could institutionally respond to abuse.
  • Interfaith vigils for women, children and men killed in domestic violence homicides.
  • Ongoing availability to consult with clergy members regarding their work with abuse-affected families.
  • Cross referrals with local faith communities.

Examples of past collaborations

Spruce Run has had working relationships with many congregations throughout Penobscot County. Since 1994 we have provided interfaith training on domestic abuse at the Bangor Theological Seminary. In 2009, we provided trainings for clergy at I CARE Ministries in Millinocket, and Community Evangel Temple in Lincoln. In 2010, we trained clergy and congregants at the Millinocket Church of the Nazarene and Grace United Methodist Church in Bangor.

In addition to inviting a Spruce Run presenter to give workshops, local congregations have partnered with Spruce Run for many years, in many ways. Congregations donate money, food and goods to Spruce Run; assist individuals in their midst who are seeking safety; and work to raise awareness of domestic abuse and violence by participating in events such as inter-faith vigils for victims of domestic violence homicides.

What do people have to say about Spruce Run’s past work with faith communities?

I believe that [the trainers] do a great job with presenting the need for Spruce Run and help for women and men in abusive situations.  The presentation is excellent. -Rev. Herschel Hafford, I Care Ministries

Spruce Run’s outreach to faith communities includes its stellar collaboration for more than 15 years with Bangor Theological Seminary to offer a masters’ level course every two years on domestic abuse and ministry, as well as regular trainings for Doctor of Ministry candidates and other clergy.  Because churches, synagogues, and mosques have an explicit mandate to seek peace and justice, the partnership with Spruce Run is an especially good fit as we work together to make every home and all families safe and respectful for its members.  Without Spruce Run, we’d still be doing this work, but not as effectively and probably not as courageously.  Thank you, Spruce Run, for your continued moral leadership that benefits us all. -Rev. Marvin M. Ellison, Ph.D., Willard S. Bass Professor of Christian Ethics at Bangor Theological Seminary

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