In March, the schools of Social Work, Education and Psychology partnered to conduct a three-hour pilot seminar to teach church workers how to respond to domestic violence issues in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“Regardless of where or how it happens, domestic violence is a huge problem,” says Laurie Cooper, research assistant from the School of Social Work. “More importantly is that this issue has not really been discussed much in the Adventist church.”
René Drumm, seminar instructor and dean of the School of Social Work, and Doug Tilstra, professor in the School of Education and Psychology, expanded the participants’ understanding of domestic abuse and informed the group of a first responder’s specific role.
“This seminar is something that has been needed in our schools and churches for many years now,” says Chad Mejeur, senior pastoral care major and one of the 17 attendees. “I would encourage anyone to attend in the future.”
As part of the program, researchers measured how the training affected the knowledge, values, and skills the church workers had available to respond to abuse situations in their congregations.
“Our data demonstrate statistically significant improvements from the trainings on the pre and post tests,” says Drumm. “As this cutting-edge approach becomes more widely utilized, it has the potential to make the Adventist Church a safer, more loving place.”
Eventually, Drumm desires to see each pastor in the Adventist Church act as a first responder. Cooper said she also believes domestic violence needs to become a point of education at all Adventists schools and churches.
Drumm is scheduled to present a domestic abuse seminar that includes results from the training model developed at Southern at the Indiana camp meeting in August 2011.