Redeeming justice:
Break the silence

The vision for Holston Conference is expressed in these words: God envisions bold, passionate, and joyful communities of faith where the spiritual hunger to worship God and to serve Christ sets disciples on fire with Spirit-filled, risk taking love for all God's children until Holston Conference reflects the saving grace and redeeming justice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On a Saturday night in July 1968, I was at a friend's house, listening to records, when another friend came running down the street to tell me my mother had been injured.

I ran to my home, six blocks away, just in time to see the EMS leaving with my mother. I did not know that I would never see my mother alive again. I was 18 years old.

She died on Monday morning from injuries inflicted by my stepfather. Thirty-eight years and six months have passed since that day, and I have yet to fulfill a promise to myself that I would do all in my power to never allow this to happen to another 18-year-old, or for that matter, another child. I received an e-mail from a friend late last year reminding me of my vow. I sent copies of this e-mail to a few people in Holston, asking them to help me keep my promise.

During our Annual Conference 2006, we adopted the "Bold, Passionate & Joyful" vision statement for Holston Conference. Today, on Jan. 30, 2007, I met with a group of ministry leaders to discuss how we might "reflect the saving grace and redeeming justice of our Lord Jesus Christ" for people who suffer from domestic violence.

I have no clue where this will lead us or what effect this will have on the number of domestic violence incidents within Holston's geographical region. I just know that we need to break the church's silence about an issue that destroys families, individuals, and women in particular. According to the FBI, a woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States. I believe the Holy Spirit calls us to address this tragedy with prayer, education, intervention, and training for our clergy and congregations. I also believe we should advocate in ways that will help and empower communities to redeem the lives of those affected by domestic violence now and in the future.

Domestic violence cuts across all age groups, involving not just children and adult women, but teens and senior citizens. It happens in families of all types, regardless of economic, social, or educational status. Some people are uncomfortable talking about this issue, but if we remain silent, we merely empower others to continue abusing, and in the end, destroying themselves.

I am reminded of the day my Lord was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and this is what Jesus chose to read:

God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free,
To announce, 'This is God's year to act!'

Let us break the silence with words and action. 


Bishop James Swanson
Resident Bishop

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