The title of this blog entry was not intended as a grim pun, but simply as a comment on the fact that sometimes events force us to recognize nearby realities that are far too easy to imagine as distant, as someone else's problem. I am writing in response to two recent news stories, first that a minister’s killing rocks Florida community, and second, that many pastors are in denial about domestic abuse, family violence.
I never met the Rev. Cheryl Rosenberg Malcolmson, who was was murdered in May by her husband, and discovered by her nine-year old daughter. But I cannot hear her story without recognizing the destructive reach of domestic violence into the life of someone with whom I shared a bond of calling and collegiality. Not even clergy families are exempt.
From time to time women who are staying at the Alle-Kiski Hope Center come to events at the church near Central Park. They receive our hospitality, and their presence reminds us of the importance of the occasional gift our church gives to the Hope Center because of the good work being done there. I can't speak for the members of the church, but I am aware today that each one of those appearances was a missed opportunity for me to see a deeper reality, to recognize an easily denied dimension of the problem: that it can affect people close to me.
I was present in Louisville, Kentucky in 2001 when the PCUSA General Assembly adoped its lengthy report on domestic violence, Turn Mourning into Dancing! I thought it was a great report, and significant that the church had taken steps to make this information available. And yet, when I went home from Louisville it was far too easy to fall back into thinking of domestic violence as a problem affecting other families, in some other place.
In the second news story, the Rev. Bonnie Orth, pastor of the Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church in upstate New York, is quoted as saying "in every church, there is at least one victim, probably one perpetrator and at least one observer who are actively watching violence but don’t know what to say or do."
There are resources available to help each of these people, and I intend that this blog entry will be only the first step that I take to make sure that the people closest to me can know about those resources and the things they can do to be safe and to make homes safe.
UPDATE 6-07-05 I added the link to the amended and adopted version of the PCUSA report "Turn Mourning Into Dancing."
File under: domestic violence, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)