By John W. Coleman
The Eastern PA Conference United Methodist Men, at their annual meeting on Saturday, Oct. 26, will explore an issue that concerns men as well as women in our society. They will continue a recent conference seminar’s focus on the important role that men can and should play in addressing the causes of domestic violence.
When they meet at Evansburg UMC (3871 Germantown Pike, Collegeville), beginning at 2 PM, the UMM members will elect officers, adopt a budget, review their ministries in 2019, and decide on goals for 2020. They will also share information about various local church men’s ministries. Bishop Peggy Johnson will attend the meeting and offer words of welcome to the men present.
But the gathering’s climax will be a program that looks at men and domestic violence (DV), also known as intimate-partner violence (IPV). UMM secretary David Marks will offer a PowerPoint presentation, followed by a discussion to enlighten members about this serious topic of widespread concern. Unfortunately, it is not enough of a concern to most men, even though they are not only the main perpetrators of DV but also frequently its victims.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “This will give us as men an opportunity to discuss what is a problem in our communities, our nation and the world,” said Clifton Hubbard, conference UMM president. “According to statistics men are the perpetrators over 90 percent of the time. However, men are also victims of domestic violence. We hope a lot of men will come and be a part of this important discussion.”
As a member of the conference’s Domestic Violence Committee, just created in 2018, Hubbard helped plan and promote the committee’s second annual seminar, “Domestic Violence: The Church Responds II” held Sept. 28 at Simpson House near Philadelphia. He will briefly reflect on that event at Saturday’s meeting.
The half-day seminar drew a diverse gathering of about 40 persons from around the conference. It focused in part on unhealthy male socialization patterns that have traditionally taught boys and men attitudes and behaviors that can lead to disrespect, violence and abuse against girls and women and also against male peers.
The Rev. Rickie Houston, a domestic violence specialist and trainer with the organization A CALL TO MEN, keynoted the seminar and participated in an informative panel discussion on the topic. Also on the panel were:
- Joe Henson, who coordinates the Coaching Boys into Men program at the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (View a video to learn more about this program.)
- Sgt. Roger Ollis, who coordinates the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) in the Coatesville Police Department. LAP is designed to keep domestic violence victims safe and reduce the chances of DV incidents ending in homicides.
- The Rev. Dave Piltz, a marriage and family therapist who coordinates Young Peoples Ministries in the Eastern PA Conference and has staffed a DV victims assistance hotline. The prevalence of intimate-partner violence among youth was one of the topics discussed by panelists.
Sandy Lewis, retired former director of the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, moderated the panel discussion. Lewis, Henson and Piltz also led breakout workshops on various topics:
- Healing the Community of the Trauma of Domestic Violence
- Teaching Respect and Helping Men Prevent Domestic Violence
- When Love Hurts: The Dynamics of Domestic Violence.
Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Rev. Anita Powell, Director of Connectional Ministries, both supportive of the Domestic Violence Committee’s work, also spoke at the seminar.
“The event was not only educational, but meaningful in many ways,” said the Rev. Jacqueline Hines, committee chairwoman. “We are developing a community that is becoming aware, caring, resourceful and responsive regarding many facets of domestic violence. We could not have asked for a better team of experts, supporters and participants. To God be the glory.”