This month we began a new practice of selecting a monthly theme towards which to specially direct our prayer and offering. This has taken shape by adding a line to our weekly prayers of intercession about this month's issue of concern, and by giving our collection from the weekly Eucharist service to a specific organization that works to address said concern.
In October, we focused on the theme of domestic violence (October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month), and will be contributing to Safe Havens, "an interfaith partnership against domestic violence" founded in 1991 "in response to all the families and youth who reach out to their faith leaders for help."
This organization works in faith communities to help train lay and clergy leaders around the particular needs of people who experience family, relationship, intimate, and sexual violence, including children, men, women, the elderly, couples and families, believing that "it is critical that faith community leaders engage in prevention, earlier intervention, accountability, and social change."
Too often abuse and violence have been wittingly or unwittingly perpetuated in faith communities. Clergy abuse people in their communities or fail to adequately support those who find themselves in abusive relationships. Intimate violence in churches, homes, schools, and workplaces affects everyone, regardless of gender, socioeconomic background, income, race, ability, age or sexual expression. As people of faith we are called to stand with those who are made vulnerable by their circumstances. Those people who are most vulnerable and hurting are sometimes ourselves or our dearest companions, family, and friends. The type of relationality that is modeled by the traditions of Christianity is a mutual, life-giving love, not one of violence, cohersion, dehumanization, or power.
These are the words we have been lifting up together this month, and we invite you into this prayer with us:
Comfort and strengthen especially those who find themselves in relationships that are unsafe, lack respect, or are marked by abuse of any kind; surround them with your loving care, and protect them from every danger.