Abusive behaviour is the staple diet of most news bulletins. Whether it's states against their citizens, adults against children or men against women, we are surrounded by this ugly narrative of cruelty.
According to the World Health Organisation, one in three women
worldwide are victims of physical or sexual violence. And a forthcoming
conference in Cardiff hosted by Gweini is taking its cue from this
One in three – the church's response to violence against women -
takes place on 28 January at Glenwood Church, in Cardiff, and will
explore the issues of violence against women, highlighting the horrific
abuse that women and girls are suffering in our society.
And if you think that this is an 'out there' problem for churches,
then think again. There are plenty of informed voices suggesting that
domestic violence against women is as much an issue for Christian
communities as anyone else. There is plenty of evidence of misanthropy
in the body of Christ - I have come across too many male church leaders
for whom this is a guilty secret in their own marriages.
Largely male led and patriarchal institutions may well create the
toxic environment required for this covert criminality. Some Christian
men it seems are getting away with it, too many women are afraid to
speak up, and more often than not church leaders are turning a blind
Conference organiser Jim Stewart said: "It is therefore paramount
that the church doesn't turn a blind eye to violence against women but
rises to the challenge to see what we can do, how we can respond."
A number of expert speakers are lined up to raise the issues, promote debate and answer questions.
The plenary session will be led by Mandy Marshall, Co-Director of
Restored, an international Christian alliance working to transform
relationships and to end violence against women.
Mandy will look at
international and UK levels of violence against women; what it looks
like, its various definitions, issues of power and control and what the
church and Restored is doing in response.
Carol Wardman, the Bishop's Advisor for Church in Society for the
Church in Wales, will explore what the Bible has to say about violence
against women. Mark Lyndon-Jones, Christian Vision for Men's director
for Wales, will identify one of the greatest elephants in the room;
namely how male church leaders handle domestic violence against women.
This conference is probably the first of its kind in Wales, shining a
torch on an area of great pain and isolation. In addition to the
keynote speakers, there will also be workshops and seminars led by
academics and counsellors.
The conference will conclude with a short presentation from Karin
Cooke, a senior leader at Freedom Church and founder of Porn Scars. This
charity exists to clean up the church worldwide of pornography and
Cooke will introduce its work in advance of its own conference in
Cardiff later this year. Her presentation will include a three-minute
video raising awareness of the issue of pornography as well as the
connection between sexual violence and porn.
Stewart said: "This a pioneering and brave venture, speaking up where
too often the church remains silent. There are still a few places
available but I would urge people to book quickly to avoid
* One in three – the church's response to violence against women
will be held on Tuesday 28 January 2014 at Glenwood Church, Cardiff CF10
1PT from 10:00 – 15:40, with registration open from 9:30.Tickets are
£10 each, which will include a light lunch and teas and coffees (£6 for
unwaged or students).
** To reserve a place, please email Jim on firstname.lastname@example.org and send cheques to "Gweini", 20 High Street, Cardiff CF10 1PT.