Pastors Attend Seminar on Abuse

Ministers of the Upper Columbia Conference were required to attend an all-day seminar on domestic violence and child abuse at the conference office in Spokane on April 5 . They listened to a number of presentations on abuse from a variety of perspectives.

Jerry Connell, a clinical pastoral psychotherapist from Nebraska, explored with the ministers a Biblical and clinical approach to forgiveness and the perpetrator. JoAnn Abeyta, a field representative of the denomination's insurance company, talked about the legal and ethical issues of abuse. Marta Beaubien, a physician and medical examiner for pediatric physical and sexual abuse, gave a medical perspective on domestic violence and child abuse. And George Masten, a law enforcement officer and a state investigator of sex crimes against children, gave an overview of child abuse in our society.

A recent study of 1,500 Adventists from 70 churches throughout the Pacific Northwest revealed the prevalence of physical abuse in the North Pacific Union. It was found that 19 percent of women and nine percent of men in the church experienced physical abuse compared to 22 percent of women and seven percent of men in the general population.

Concerned about the amount of abuse within the church, the conference administrators arranged for this seminar to help pastors deal with the problem. The conference executive committee also reviewed and reaffirmed in March a previous decision that all volunteers who work with children in churches and schools must fill out a background form that is processed at the conference office to help protect children from possible abuse.