UM Men Target Domestic Violence



United Methodist News Service (UMNS)
Photo right: Members of the General Commission on United Methodist Men consider ways to decrease the incidences of domestic violence. Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., of the Mississippi Conference is the president of the GCUMM.
Leaders of United Methodist Men agreed to increase efforts to eliminate domestic violence.
"Only men can stop domestic violence," said Gilbert C. Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men.
He told the 20-member commission, meeting September 5-7, that domestic violence occurs in lots of homes, including parsonages."
Cooperative effort
"This is the first time United Methodist Men and United Methodist Women have an official opportunity to provide a dual witness instead of appearing to be at logger heads," said Mississippi Area Bishop James Swanson, president of the 20-member commission. "This will be a witness that the world and the church needs as we seek to bring healing and wholeness to women children and families that have suffered for far too long because the church has either ignored or refused to bring the full power that God has given us to bear upon this evil."
The bishop told the group of his long history of involvement with domestic violence cases. "I have discovered that other social services groups are ready to aid us," he said while noting "police department personnel are never in more danger than when they respond to a domestic violence call."
In an addendum to a commission report to an evaluation committee of the Connectional Table, Bishop Swanson called for a dialogue with United Methodist Women "to seek ways that we might collaborate to stop domestic violence."
The commission and conference presidents of United Methodist Men have agreed to:
  • Become an advocate within annual conference areas to stop domestic violence
  • Create a resource center for those who need information and ideas on how to address this issue
  • Become a model on how men might lead this charge
  • Move from talking to action that will end domestic violence.
Hanke recently spoke at a meeting of Memphis Conference United Methodist Women. During that meeting he noted:
  • We have a society that overtly degrades women.
  • Being a real man means not tolerating attitudes that assume a lower status of women.
  • One in four women will be abused, typically by a significant partner or family member.
  • Tennessee ranks sixth in the nation for the rate in which women are killed by men.
  • Men are both the problem and the solution.
  • A domestic violence case is referred to Nashville police every 20 minutes.
The commission has worked with United Methodist Women to provide a discussion guide for "I Believe You," a film about domestic violence and the faith community. For a preview of the film, click here. For a discussion guide visit the resource section of the website.
"Domestic Violence: What Churches Can Do," a DVD produced by FaithTrust Institute.
For resources provided by the General Board of Church and Society, click here.   
Click here to read a previous Circuit Rider story on how domestic violence impacted Bishop Swanson.