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Respect Starts with You

It is simply not acceptable for violence to be wrapped up in biblical texts, neatly packaged in verses of scripture.

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Respect Starts with You

by The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO | Archbishop

The anticipation of taking up a new parish appointment is colossal, and never more so than for those in a first parish placement. The prayerful planning, hopes, dreams, and hard work of learning gained, the responsibility of having been ordained for the public ministry of the church: these are wonderful and fearful matters. I well remember those early days of parish ministry. There is always learning in the offering and exercise of pastoral ministry. Some lessons are easily anticipated; others not.

One of the lasting learnings that has accompanied me across the years is of sitting with someone in her kitchen, children in the foreground, dishes in the sink, listening to a shocking story of family violence over many years. That story has remained with me. And perhaps even more shocking: the revelation that one minister had told this woman that she could see the abuse as her cross to bear.

I'd like to think that stories like this are ancient history, both the story of violence experienced by women and children, and that of the damaging pastoral response to such a situation by that minister. I'd like to think that Anglican ministers are so alert and attuned to the gospel love of Jesus Christ, which sees women and men drawn into mutuality of relationship in Christ, that domestic violence would never be excused or ignored or thought to be biblically sanctioned.

In his recent book The Headship of Men and the Abuse of Women - Are They Related In Any Way? Anglican priest and Biblical scholar Kevin Giles writes, ‘virtually every male abuser with a church background quotes the Bible to justify his actions’.

It is well known that this issue affects religious families as well as non-religious families. Family violence occurs across the whole community. It is well known that the overwhelming majority of those who are victims of family violence are women and children. In Australia, one woman a week dies as a result of family violence. Every three hours, one goes to hospital. These figures are frightening. This year, COVID-19 lockdowns have escalated reports of domestic violence, bringing the problem into sharp focus.

The National Anglican Family Violence Working Group is working on a study to research the prevalence, experience and impact of family violence in our church community. An invitation has been extended to any Anglican who has been impacted by domestic and family violence to contribute to the research. The research will equip us to better understand the nature of violence, help us to address the violence, and shape our policy and practice as we respond to these difficult issues.

We encourage members of our Diocese to complete the survey and contribute to this research as you are able.

It is simply not acceptable for violence to be wrapped up in biblical texts, neatly packaged in verses of scripture. It is never okay to gloss over passages of violence against women or to read, tell or teach the Bible in ways that rob women of spiritual authority or affirm an automatic right of men to dominate based on their gender. To do so is to participate in and collude with the abuse we deplore in other parts of society.

As I read the Bible, and as I lead the Church, I am convinced that God’s love for all people in Jesus means we can be free to live in loving relationships without fear or the need for abusive power and control. Love is not coercive – not God’s love for us, not our love for one another. Jesus’ own self-giving love is the pattern for our love. There is a well of life in that

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16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

Details of the four online panel discussions being held as part of the 16-Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence are now available online on the Gender Justice pages of the Anglican Communion website, where you will also find a registration link.

In addition, a training webinar to help people identify the signs of domestic abuse will take place on three occasions: Thursday 26 November, 6.30 am GMT; Friday 27 November, 10.30 am GMT; and Monday 30 November. 7 pm GMT. Details on the Gender Justice web pages.

At 7 pm GMT on Tuesday 24 November, a video of a conversation between the Anglican Communion’s Director for Gender Justice, Mandy Marshall, and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, will be shown on YouTube, Facebook and the Anglican Communion News Service website.

The panel discussions will also be available on YouTube as follows:

Wednesday 25 November, 11.30 am GMT

Friday 27 November, 2 pm GMT

Wednesday 2 December, 12.30 pm GMT

Thursday 10 December, 2 pm GMT

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