September 15, 2017

Pastors’ Summit on Abuse Draws Hundreds

Kimberly Luste Maran, North American Division News

On Sept. 11 and 12, 2017, the North American Division (NAD) live streamed the enditnow Pastors’ Summit on Abuse from the Spencerville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Spencerville, Maryland, United States. Pastors and church leaders from across the division, in person and online, attended the first-of-its-kind event, which was dedicated to sharing information on how to recognize and prevent abuse at church events and in the lives of church members. Presenters also shared legal definitions of abuse and what church leaders should do in reporting cases.

About 100 pastors and church leaders attended the first day of the summit, which was offered in English. Approximately 300 on average continuously viewed the live stream video on Facebook. Hundreds of questions and comments were sent to the enditnow social media team throughout the day. Most of these questions were answered by the presenters (after their lectures), attorneys, pastors, and Adventist Risk Management representatives.

Daniel R. Jackson (NAD president), along with Jose Cortes Jr. and Ivan Williams (from the NAD Ministerial Association), welcome Spanish-speaking attendees at the enditnow Pastors' Summit on Abuse on Sept. 12, 2017. [Photo: Pieter Damsteegt, North American Division News]

President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America Daniel R. Jackson greeted the audience both days, describing abuse as “serious.”

“I pray that wherever we find abusive behavior, we will deal with it in a Christian way—we will not ignore it,” he said. “We have to help end abuse. It is our Christian mandate. We have to inform ourselves. We have to inform our people.”

Presenters and topics included Kiti Freier Randall, on “Child Abuse;” David Fournier, on “Child-to-Child Bullying;” Lola Moore Johnston, on “Teen Dating Violence;” Mable Dunbar, on “Intimate Partner Violence: Pastor/Ministry Response;” Mark Chopko on “Pastors’ Legal Responsibilities Regarding Abuse” and “Pastoral Care for the Abuser;” and Mike Tucker, on “‘The Bible Says’ — Debunking Scriptural Support for Abusive Relationships.”

Speaker/director for Faith For Today Tucker started his presentation by stating that “abuse never stops on its own…. Statistics on abuse in our church are just as bad as in society.”

Tucker received the most applause during the two-day event as he elucidated several biblical passages, describing how some common interpretations are inaccurate. “Scripture does not require you to stay in an abusive relationship,” he said.

On the second day, more than 40 church leaders joined the summit in person, while about 100 on average continuously viewed the live stream video on Facebook. Again, questions that flowed in from Facebook and Twitter were answered by the experts on the social media team.

A different group of presenters spoke for the Spanish-language lectures on day two. These experts spoke on the same or similar topics as their English counterparts. They included Alfonso Valenzuela, Daisy Montes de Oca, Pedro Guzmán, Claudio Consuegra, Jorge E. Rico, and Paul R. Rivera.

During his presentation, Valenzuela, pastor of the San Bernardino Spanish church in California, said that every minister must recognize when there is some type of abuse and report it to the authorities.

“Even if you do not want them to, [the victims] will come to you,” he said. “If you don’t have the counseling education, refer them to professionals.”

Both days of the event were not only live streamed on Facebook but also covered live on the enditnow Twitter account. Visit the enditnow Facebook page to watch the presentations.Those who attended the entire day, in either Spanish or English, are eligible for continuing education credits.