The 2019 enditnow NAD Summit on Abuse Focuses on Helping Pastors and Seminary Students Recognize and Stop Abuse

The Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary Chapel on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, was full during the afternoon and early evening on September 4, the first day of the North American Division’s 2019 enditnow Summit on Abuse. This is the division’s third summit, which broadcast over two days in English and Spanish — and the first to be held on a university campus.

Video news report from the 2019 enditnow NAD Summit on Abuse from the campus of Andrews University.

The two-day summit was organized to give pastors, seminary students, teachers, volunteers, church staff, and members the tools and knowledge to help end abuse within their scope of influence. The summit featured a number of experts ranging from church leaders, administrators, professional advocates, educators, and women who shared their stories of abuse.*

“This is a very sober and serious subject facing our society and our church,” said G. Alexander Bryant, North American Division (NAD) executive secretary, during an introduction to the summit. “It is my prayer that you leave this summit more equipped, informed, and motivated to address abuse in the sphere of your influence — where you work, where you socialize, and even where you worship.”

In addition to the live audience gathered both days in the chapel, according to Jamie Domm, digital media strategist for the NAD, more than 3,600 registered to watch the Facebook live-stream event for both days. More than 500 on average continuously viewed the live-stream video presentations on Facebook.

During the 2019 enditnow NAD summit on Abuse (English), speaker Dr. Rene Drumm talks about relational abuse and violence.

Before the summit’s experts made their way to the platform, Ivan Williams, NAD Ministerial Association director, welcomed the audience, and on-site and online audiences participated in a survey on abuse. During both days, presenters (after their lectures), attorneys, pastors, and Adventist Risk Management representatives were available to answer questions generated on Twitter and Facebook.

"Why is addressing this incumbent upon the church?” asked first presenter René Drumm, who then shared the second part of Jesus’ words in John 10:10. “Living a life of abuse is not abundant living…One person is too many.”

The topics covered during day one of the Summit on Abuse included “Relational Abuse and Violence in the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Drumm, professor of social work; “Spiritual Abuse: Let’s End It Now,” David Sedlacek, professor of Family Ministry and Discipleship; “The Silent Victims of Domestic Violence,” Ruben Muriente, outreach coordinator for the Family Justice Center (Tennessee); “Peer Abuse: Prevalence, Protection, and Prevention,” Mindy Salyers, educator, counselor, bullying prevention specialist; “Pornography and Violence,” Stanley Stevenson, social services regional director, Mississippi Department of Health; “Double Abuse and Its Consequences,” Sarah McDugal, abuse recovery coach; and “The Heart of Abuse,” with the coordinator of the Psalm 82 Initiative.

The second day’s topics included “El Sutil Poder del Abuso Spiritual,” Jorge Mayer; “Aprendiendo lo que Es Violencia Domestica,” Melissa Ponce-Rodas, professor; “Dándole Voz a las Victimas Secundaria de la Violencia Domestica,” Muriente; “Como Reconocer los Tipos de Hostigamiento contra un Niño/a, Gerry Lopez; “La Relacion Entre la Pornografia y la Violencia Domestica,” Claudio Consuegra; and “Cómo Evitar el Abuso Doble,” Melissa Ramos-Mota.

Testimonies were shared by Latoya Wright (English) and Dalia Padró (Spanish), survivors of abuse.

One Facebook viewer, Nicole Crosier Parker, shared her appreciation for the summit via comment: “This. Was. Amazing,” Parker wrote. “Thank you to all of these awesome presenters, and everyone else who put so much work into this! This is how change happens!”

After the live streams concluded, in another first, presenters and attendees were invited to a reception and Q&A session. There, audience members asked the presenter panel questions, and got to hear about real-life situations and solutions.

David Sedlacek, professor of Family Ministry and Discipleship at Andrews University, addresses both the online audience as those gathered at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary Chapel on Sept. 4, 2019.

Presenter Perspective

First presenter, René Drumm, Ph.D., who has been doing research on domestic violence and intimate partner violence (IPV) in the church for decades, said she believes that the Adventist Church is uniquely poised to be a world leader in the area of abuse response and prevention.

“The first study in the early 2000s showed that our rates of IPV are about on par with U.S. national statistics,” said Drumm. “The second study took an in-depth look at Adventist victim/survivors of IPV, which captured my heart and energy. The pain from the survivor’s stories convinced us that the most pressing need was to train pastors to respond to disclosures of abuse. From there, the Lord opened the doors for our research team to train the pastors in our area (then Georgia-Cumberland Conference) on abuse response. We developed a 4-hour training that the conference mandated for all of their pastors with amazing and lasting results.”

Drumm concluded, “Because a significant number of people in our church are suffering with this silent affliction, we need to act. We have the data, we know what needs to be done, and we have a proven path for improvement.”

Another presenter, Ruben Muriente, said that he is participating in the summit because he wants to equip the Adventist Church with the best available resources and education and awareness possible to battle abuse head on. Muriente, the outreach coordinator for the Family Justice Center in Tennessee, spoke both days of the summit, presenting in English and Spanish.

“My goal is to eradicate abuse in our church,” said Muriente. “At the summit, I will be presenting on the effects of abuse on children who witness abuse. I want the audience to understand that children need our help and support.”

After day one of the live-stream broadcast, Latoya Wright, a seminary student and abuse survivor, participants with the panel of speakers in the summit's Q&A session in Chan Shun Hall, Andrews University.

David Sedlacek, a professor at Andrews University, said that “as a survivor of spiritual and emotional abuse, I am convinced that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a responsibility to create safe churches not only for our own members, but also for the communities surrounding us.”

Sedlacek believes that the enditnow NAD Summit on Abuse has provided information, testimonials, and strategies to help deal with abuse and violence of all sorts. “It will help to move our church forward… This is an essential element of the healing mission of the church as we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus,” added Sedlacek.

“The enditnow Summit on Abuse is crucial for the Adventist church because it is long past time for us to take the subject of abuse seriously,” shared Sarah McDugal. “We carry a gospel mandate to accurately represent the loving character of God to those who are vulnerable and wounded. Properly dealing with abuse and abusers, is an evangelistic imperative, because poorly handled abuse situations is one of the overwhelming contributors to young people leaving the church. How can we expect our young people to stay, when they too often see leaders misrepresent God’s character by protecting abusers and sweeping victims aside?”

McDugal hopes the audience comes away from the summit with a healing awareness that there are people in the church who care about counteracting abuse; a sense of more freedom to speak out about pain and find support; and a connection to practical tools to be used to increase education on abuse topics.

Seminary students actively engage in the 2019 enditnow NAD Summit on Abuse held on the campus of Andrews University.

From the NAD

While many from the North American Division administration and leadership have supported the summit in myriad ways — from hosting to planning to presenting — two gave presentations at this year’s event during the Spanish-language broadcast.

Gerry Lopez, associate director of NAD Children’s Ministries, said that “it is time for our church to talk and inform about these topics, to put them out there in the open. We need to educate our leaders and members and make them aware that this is a real problem that exists in our church. We really have to educate everyone so that we all can know how to identify the problem and help the victims.”

Lopez presented on bullying with the hope that viewers would gain a better understanding about not only what bullying is and how to prevent it, but also how to help kids deal with it. “As pastors, Sabbath School teachers, children’s ministry leaders, school teachers, and parents we must be the people that the victims of bullying can go to for help and protection. The only way that will happen is they can trust us enough to come to us; the only way we can help is if we ourselves are informed on what to do.”

“I spoke about the relationship between pornographers and intimate partner abuse,” said Claudio Consuegra, D.Min., NAD Family Ministries director. “Our hope is to shed some more light on the growing problem with pornography in our churches and communities.”

*Both days of the Summit on Abuse are available to watch on the enditnow NAD Facebook page.

Additional Information

If you are in immediate need of help, visit the enditnow website to connect with resources in your area.

The Seventh-day Church in North America also offers a silent whistle program that allows users to send anonymous reports of abuse. Visit silentwhistle.com, then click on “file an ethics/compliance incident report,” then enter “Adventist.” The reports go to the Office of General Counsel for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

You can also watch the Summit on Abuse by visiting https://www.enditnownorthamerica.org/watch2019.

This article was written by Kimberly Luste Maran and was originally published by the North American Division.

Main image: Ruben Muriente addresses the audience on Sept. 4, 2019, at the enditnow NAD Summit on Abuse. Muriente, the outreach coordinator for the Family Justice Center in Tennessee, spoke both days of the summit, presenting in English and Spanish.

All photos by Pieter Damsteegt, courtesy of the NAD.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9866
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“Recognizing and Stopping Abuse” is not a simple/easy task*. It requires good training and experience. I hope the “help” the NAD will provide to its pastors won’t be just some readings on the subject.

*How do I know? For 12 years (1995-2007) my full time job was running groups of psychological treatment for Court-ordered perpetrators of domestic violence. Tough, but I enjoyed it since I learned a lot from that experience. Better than any University curriculum on the subject!!!

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A equally cogent issue is clergy who sexually abuse. The church has a mixed history that tends to cover up. A congregation offers many vulnerable members.

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Bullying is not restricted to school age children anymore. Church policies formulated in secrecy and sprang on constituents for discussion and voting in 3 hours is a form of bullying. Organizing compliance committees as a result of knee-jerk reaction is a form of bullying. Taunting traits known for having biological predisposition is a form of bullying. Restricting a group is constituents based solely on gender is a form of bullying. I can go on and on but you get my drift.

Church leaders from the GC on down to our local churches should be mandated to attend sessions to be more cognizant of how abuses come in different forms and how we all contribute to this despicable behavior.

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Praise be… Sometimes I feel like the disrespect for basic women rights is so ingrained, Gilead has something on us.

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Better late than never…discussing this topic and teaching about it has been so long overdue in the SDA church. No person of any age group should suffer from abuse, especially in a church. All the other commenters above me have added to the list of things that should also be added and addressed. However- this is, at least, a promising start.

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I am curious what will be done “de facto” on this. All those ideas and recommendations are great. But I want to se what is going to be done and whether MH and Behavior professionals will be involved. I hope it won 't be based on pastoral counseling + lots of praying… :innocent:
Because we already know how effective this approach is… :roll_eyes:

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As Kim @cincerity had correctly mentioned, this is indeed a good start. But as we all know, if it takes a number of experts to point out what we all should know is wrong, there is something fundamentally defective with how we approach and justify our behaviors. For me, the crux of the matter is ingrained in elitism in our church. We constantly talk about all are created in the image of God, yet the church’s modus operandi is to categorize and prioritize levels of membership in our church hierarchy. The devil is lurking behind the Male Headship theory.

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It is one thing to have “seminars” on Abuse, Bullying, and other offenses to
Personhood.
But if there is NO TRAINING PROGRAM initiated, a person NOT SIGN a
FORM stating they have attended a Training Program on a certain date, and
required to again Complete the Training Program at intervals, this will all be
JUST for LOOKS, Window Dressing, and let’s not waste peoples’ time, and waste
column Inches in a Magazine telling about the “Seminar”.
The Training Program needs to include ALL persons in the Local Church who
hold a Local Church Office.

As mentioned by other posters here there are also CORPORATE
Denominational Abuse, Bullying, and Offenses to Personhood that
need to be addressed.

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Steve,
Have you ever heard about "intellectual abuse?"

Well, check this article by Clifford Goldstein in the AR. It’s outrageous:
https://www.adventistreview.org/cliffs-edge-10000-adams-and-eves

I posted a comment there, but I am sure they will not “approve” it for posting. They do not support freedom of speech on that site. But, here is what I wrote in my comment to him anyway:

"I haven’t read the book, …"

Excuse me Sir, but you wrote an article, an analysis of a book, without reading the book? This is infamous!
I am glad you disclosed this right away at the beginning of your criticizing exercise, because it saved me some of my precious time. I could stop reading your material right there. Why would I (or anyone else) read comments on a book that you did not read? This is intelectual “faketious” practice.
Of course my comment may never be posted here. But at least I could voice my opinion about this very strange and audacious episode of yours. I wonder what kind of people read something like this…
@Cliff @bness

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It is also bullying when Ted Wilson repeatedly refuses to acknowledge the many heartfelt letters from church members, church staff and the Adventist community family that are pleading for dialogue on the subject of Women’s Ordination.

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Sister patti
Where does a church draw the line or have a line for every letter or petition.
This is the dilemma organization is in now

the dangerous issue with petitioning outside the GC meetings our church becomes political and CHURCH AND STATE
we need to separate earthly politics and spiritual

Maybe the NAD has a plan, to start implementing their “helping project” by test driving it on the GC people, actually TW being the first one to be offered the benefits of such anti-bullying curriculum. If he refuses to take the course, it may have "grave consequences!":wink:

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George –
HOW FUNNY!!!
It is actually a book I am reading now – Adam and the Genome by Venema
and Mc Knight [one of my favorite authors]
His LONG article is ONLY based on someone else’s Review of the book, which
is ONLY a Personal Opinion by THAT person.
HOW FUNNY if it wasn’t so TRAGIC!!
Whoever heard of spending THAT many Column Inches in a Denominational
Paper doing that!! And in the END Have No Idea of what the Authors Said???
However, He Is the Editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guides.
I did hear one contributor say that when his topic came out it was nothing like
he had submitted to the Sabbath School Department.
Perhaps that is just Clifford.

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Patti –
Probably the BEST you might get would be a letter from some
secretary acknowledging the receipt of your letter to President Wilson.
And THAT would be all.

Steve,
Just checked on the AR site. Boy, was I shocked!? The comment I posted yesterday was, of course, not published. Who would tell, uh?
\Well, at least they published one short comment (by R. Wresch, M.D.) that basically reflects what I wrote: “Would it be appropriate to suggest that someone wishing to publish a book review, actually read the book first?”
@Cliff

Update: It took a while, but all my comments were finally published o AR.

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Maybe the “M.D.” after his name clinched it! :slightly_smiling_face:

The basic notion of a conflab on eliminating abuse at an institution where children are taught, from birth, that they are uniquely extraordinary creatures in that their creator finds them exquisitely deplorable and worthy only of destruction, is beyond ironic.
Terrorizing a child with the incessant insistence that his maker will have nothing to do with him until he, a natural born sinner, somehow rectifies his “original crime of merely being” by jumping through an infinitely long, but not clearly defined set of hoops, is the most despicable misuse words imaginable and is a doctrinal dogma that is demeaning to the point of being beneath discussion.
If there is anything more abusive than gaslighting an entire species, much less its young, I can’t think of what that might be (or even how such a thing could be possible). So if the proponents of such an institution should be discussing anything—that is, if they are serious about ending the practice of systematically insulting god’s handiwork—I’d suggest they take up the essential topic and elementary task of finding jobs which don’t depend on making money by scaring kids, talking down to the impressionable and bullying innocents.

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If blame is to be assigned, I would assign most of it to the editors of the Adventist Review. If Clifford Goldstein chooses to write a defense of the Genesis account of creation as the Adventist Church sees it, that is fine. For the AR to choose Mr Goldstein to review (or write a review of a review) a book which he hasn’t read and to choose a person such as Mr Goldstein, whose expertise is questionable, when there are capable scientists such as Dr. Ness to evaluate and discuss the book, and for the AR to allow Mr Goldstein’s characterization of Dr Ness to see the light of day, is beyond the pale.

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I have long thought that children’s sabbath school classrooms are where some of our worst theology lives on in hiding. Not in every case, of course, as there are a great number of thoughtful and insightful sabbath school teachers; the fault sometimes lies in our “legacy” teaching materials. For example, I have been reading the volumes of Arthur Maxwell’s The Bible Story with my youngest daughter. There is much good there, but I often have to make “creative paraphrases” with problematic passages (check out who is truly at fault for Solomon’s fall!). My own worst experience came through the “if only one little sin is on the record” teaching of the Second Coming that I got so much of as a child during the 1980s. I had nightmares about that, deep into my 20s.

Well said.

Pax,

David

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