Frontline Anglican family workers from throughout the South Pacific will soon gather in Lower Hutt with movers and shakers within the Church to plan new ways to counter family violence in our region.
They’ll be gathering for the Oceania leg of the International Anglican Family Network’s Violence and the Family consultations (similar events have already been held in Kenya and Korea) – and one of the event’s main organisers, The Rev Charles Waldegrave, is determined that it won’t be a talk fest.
He’s looking for substance. He’s looking to the consultation to give a lead to the church on stemming family violence – and in turn, he wants the church to take a lead in society on this issue.
Charles, who is an Anglican priest, a psychologist and social policy researcher, and who is a co-leader at The Family Centre in Lower Hutt (which is hosting the consultation) says the 25 delegates who’ll be coming have been chosen either because of their practical experience in stopping family violence – or because they’ve got track records in getting important messages across to the church.
“We’ll be sharing our work,” says Charles, “and strategising about ways, diocese by diocese, province by province, that we can get some real movement in halting violence in families.
“Family violence is a serious problem in New Zealand. And it’s certainly a problem in the Pacific.
“It happens in our congregations – and the church can take some leadership in the whole of society on this.”
The consultation already has the endorsement and practical support of the three Archbishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
In a newly-released statement the archbishops say that they consider the subject of Violence and the Family to be “one of the most important areas for the Church to be addressing within its own ranks and within the wider society.”
The archbishops say they look forward to the delegates “helping the Church reflect on more effective ways it can be involved in preventing violence, in all its forms.
“This type of reflection is vital if we are to contribute to the safety and wellbeing of children, women and indeed everyone in our contemporary societies.”
And they make a promise.
“We will ensure,” they say, “that the findings and recommendations of this consultation are fully considered and discussed within our Churches as part of our commitment to stopping violence and creating peace in our communities.”
The archbishops have shown their support in a practical way, too.
The International Anglican Family Network has raised £20,000 Stg so the delegates, most of whom come from poor Pacific countries, can get to the consultation.
That, says Charles Waldegrave, is a “heroic effort” in recession-straitened times.
But the money’s still tight, and the Archbishops have approved an $8000 grant which will cover all the travel and accommodation costs of the four New Zealand delegates – and therefore leave the full IAFN grant to go towards meeting the Pacific delegates’ bills.
Australia and New Zealand will each send four delegates (Maori women’s and children’s advocate Hera Clarke and the Rev Don Tamihere will represent Tikanga Maori, while Karen Morrison-Hume from Anglican Action in Hamilton and Wellington psychologist Richard Sawrey will represent Tikanga Pakeha), and there will be two delegates – a man and a woman – from each of the following countries: Papua New Guinea; Vanuatu; the Solomons, Hawaii; Fiji; Samoa and Tonga, as well representatives from the Anglican Communion Office in London.
Charles Waldegrave says the equal number of men and women coming to Lower Hutt is deliberate.
“Women,” he says, “have carried this message about stopping family violence by themselves for too long. We want this message carried by men to men as well.”
The powhiri for the consultation will be at 10am on October 27, and the final sessions will be held on Sunday afternoon, October 31.
The actual business sessions of the consultations will be held at the Angus Inn, in Lower Hutt.
For more on the IAFN, including reports from the two previous Violence and the Family consultations, go to: http://iafn.anglicancommunion.org/index.cfm
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