28 June 2005

Methodist Conference adopts major report on domestic abuse

The Methodist Conference has adopted a report calling for more action to deal with domestic abuse. The Conference heard that each week two women in England and Wales are killed by a current or former partner.

The report makes clear that domestic abuse is about as common within the Church as within society as a whole: about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men report suffering abuse from a partner as an adult. Conference stood to make its vote as a sign of its commitment to strive for justice and an end to abuse.

Margaret Sawyer, Secretary of the Methodist Women's Network, said 'it has long been the case that churches view domestic abuse as a serious matter, and one in church terminology, we would call 'a sin'. Abuse is sinful behaviour, and as such needs also to be held within a framework of repentance, forgiveness and redemption. Repentance means that the abuser has to take full responsibility for their actions, and it means that abusers must understand that they still pose a risk to those who have been hurt.

'Forgiveness cannot erase the past, and as Christians we should not pretend that forgiveness is always easy. It may take a long time for a victim of abuse to be able to forgive their abuser, so as a Church we must not tell people that it is wrong if they don't immediately forgive.'

We must also look at ways in which we can celebrate good relationships. The report gives a detailed overview of the biblical and theological perspectives of domestic abuse that help us understand God's intention for equal and mutually loving relationships. Conference agreed that Methodist churches, circuits and districts should circulate the report widely in order to support action, teaching and worship that highlights positive human relationships.

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