21 November 2001

Smashing time promised at Methodist services for women

An "act of violence" will play an unusual part in Christian services of worship to be used in Methodist churches on Sunday 25 November.

As part of an Act of Confession and Reconciliation, participants in services to mark the International Day of Action against Violence on Women will smash up old crockery.

Crockery will be placed in plastic bags and hit with a hammer to prevent flying debris harming participants. But, even with these safeguards, writers of the service from the Methodist Church Women┬╣s Network hope that the act of violence will provide "a powerful image of the violence that is experienced in the home".

Members of each congregation will then be asked to put the pieces of crockery together in the shape of a cross, to provide a centrepiece for the remainder of their service.

The services of worship will follow a national conference on violence and women, taking place at Wesley College, Bristol, on Saturday 24 November 2001, 10.30am-4pm

Around 100 women from around Britain are expected to gather for the day - part of a two-year project led by the Methodist Church to highlight the reality of domestic abuse against women as well as supporting initiatives across the world dealing with the fall-out of violence against women.

Women's Network National Secretary Margaret Sawyer said that the Bristol conference will include a workshop on how local church groups can be set up to support women who have been abused. There will also be news about a research project that the Methodist Church is funding, "The Way Forward", led by Dr Lorraine Radford and Cecilia Cappel, of Southlands College, University of Surrey in Roehampton. A report on this research is due to be published during Spring 2002.

The order of service 'Soaring Wings and Strengthened Dreams' (together with leader's notes) to mark the International Day of Action against Violence on Women is available fromWomen's Network of the Methodist Church, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR Tel: 020 7467 5172

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