October 8, 2017
In 2008, Dorene Seidl, a beloved, longtime member of Briargate Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, was killed by her husband when she was attempting to leave their relationship of over 40 years.
That’s when domestic violence visited our church. It was heartbreakingly real.
The following year, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the family and the congregation committed to make something good come from their tragedy. We invited area congregations to a community-wide awareness program. We hoped that what had happened in our congregation wouldn’t happen in theirs.
Pam Scanlon, Dorene’s daughter, courageously prepared to tell her family’s story.
Pam’s husband worked with other men in the congregation to make a life-sized Silent Witness silhouette with a placard that gave a brief description of what happened. Silent Witness silhouettes are a project of Silent Witness International, which honors the lives of domestic violence victims. Although people killed by domestic violence no longer have a voice, the silhouettes “speak” for them.
We used the expertise and the resources provided by the Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network, which is part of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association; the video “Broken Vows”; and an exercise called “Janet’s Story,” which attempts to answer the often-asked question “Why does she stay?” Perhaps a better question is “Why does he abuse?”
We marked our effort as an excellent start and have been pleased that doors are opening to engagement in this difficult discussion. Unfortunately, too many people, including people worshiping with us, still live in the tragic world of abuse.
As part of our ministry
- we have been invited to share our hard-won knowledge with other faith groups, making this an ecumenical outreach;
- we have identified other Presbyterians with personal experience and expertise to form a network with Mid-Kentucky Presbytery;
- our local community ministry has asked for training for its staff, with the possibility of future programming for its clients.
God’s intention for all of us is abundant life! Join us in taking steps to make that intention a reality.
Rev. Nancy K. Troy, leadership member of the Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network
Today’s Focus: Domestic Violence Awareness
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
O God, we offer our eyes, ears, hearts, tears, anger, love and hope as we work to stop the violence. Amen.