Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Family Justice Center gathers faith leaders to address domestic violence

Religious leaders were brought together by the Family Justice Center to sign a proclamation against domestic violence. Sitting, from left, are Cantor Deborah Jacobson, Temple Ahavat Shalom; Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR Florida; the Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson of First United Church of Tampa; Nilufer Wilkins, Tampa Friends Meeting; and Maj. Dan Heard, Tampa/Hillsborough area commander of the Salvation Army. Standing, from left, are Katrena Faison of Living Hope Worship Center; Richard Behers, spiritual care manager with LifePath Hospice; Cantor Riselle Bain, Congregation Schaarai Zedek; the Rev. Virginia Walsh of Unity North Tampa; Pastor Timothy Kemp of Peace Progressive Primitive Baptist; Dotti Groover-Skipper, United Methodist Church and the HeartDance Foundation; Pastor Michael Neely of New Millennium Church; the Rev. Phyllis Hunt, Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa; Betty McCray, Center of Manifestation; and Father Sean O’

Courtesy of Sabrinia Burns

Religious leaders were brought together by the Family Justice Center to sign a proclamation against domestic violence. Sitting, from left, are Cantor Deborah Jacobson, Temple Ahavat Shalom; Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR Florida; the Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson of First United Church of Tampa; Nilufer Wilkins, Tampa Friends Meeting; and Maj. Dan Heard, Tampa/Hillsborough area commander of the Salvation Army. Standing, from left, are Katrena Faison of Living Hope Worship Center; Richard Behers, spiritual care manager with LifePath Hospice; Cantor Riselle Bain, Congregation Schaarai Zedek; the Rev. Virginia Walsh of Unity North Tampa; Pastor Timothy Kemp of Peace Progressive Primitive Baptist; Dotti Groover-Skipper, United Methodist Church and the HeartDance Foundation; Pastor Michael Neely of New Millennium Church; the Rev. Phyllis Hunt, Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa; Betty McCray, Center of Manifestation; and Father Sean O’

NORTH TAMPA — They were Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Methodist and more.

They were men and women coming together for one cause.

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County gathered faith leaders this week to sign a proclamation and learn more about the role they can play in preventing domestic abuse.

"The intent is to recognize that domestic violence crosses all lines, including faith, economic, cultural … and to get faith leaders to take a stand on that," said Nikki Daniels, executive director of the Family Justice Center.

Michael Neely, pastor of New Millennium Community Church in Tampa, said that many women stay in abusive situations because of their religion.

Neely works with domestic violence victims through the interfaith chaplaincy program at the Family Justice Center, a one-stop service center for victims and their families.

"The majority (of victims) had the same struggle: 'Is God going to be angry with me if I leave?' " he said to more than 30 representatives of churches and organizations, including the Spring, LifePath Hospice and the Salvation Army.

"There are women in your congregations who are being abused. They exist in silence and darkness," Neely said to the clergy. "On this issue we agree. Domestic violence is not accepted in any shape or form."

Kimberly Alexander, whom Neely counseled, shared her story of being in a 20-year abusive relationship with a pastor. Alexander said her former husband used the word of God to subdue her.

She said she decided to get out of the relationship after he nearly strangled her.

"Know your power," she said to the church leaders. "Don't get so complacent with your congregation to think you know what they are going through."

Alexander now works with other victims of domestic violence and leads the center's VOICES Advocacy Committee.

"Watch for changes," she said, "because a woman will change when she's in the presence of her batterer."

Daniels said studies have shown that 45 percent of those killed in domestic abuse situations have worked with their pastors, while only 2 percent have worked with some type of domestic violence agency.

"It's really important that the faith leaders work with us," she said.

Many times, she said, an organization like the Family Justice Center has greater resources when dealing with an abusive situation.

Ministers, clergy and pastors took turns reading the proclamation that pledged "spiritual and religious leaders of Tampa Bay, proclaim with one voice, that domestic violence exists in our own Tampa Bay communities and is morally, spiritually and universally intolerable."

The proclamation was signed by representatives from 16 religious and community organizations, including Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Congregation Schaarai Zedek, Unity North Tampa, CAIR Florida (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Peace Progressive Primitive Baptist Church, Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa and First United Church of Tampa.

Alexander said she felt gratified to see "faith leaders across so many beliefs … unified in having no tolerance for domestic violence."

Daniels hopes the leaders spread the word. "Part of our goal is that they will speak to their congregations to say that domestic violence is not accepted by their church," she said.

The faith leaders received information packets that included scriptures related to domestic violence.

Daniels urges clergy members who may be faced with dealing with possible domestic abuse victims to "believe them and support them, and encourage them to seek services to help them be safe."

For one representative, the cause hit close to home. Before his turn to read, Richard Behers of LifePath Hospice mentioned that a co-worker recently died as a result of domestic abuse.

"Faith leaders have a great impact on their churches. Hopefully this issue will get some notoriety," he said afterward. "This is an amazing turnout. There's hardly words to say … I'm very, very pleased."

>>Fast Facts

The Family Justice Center of Hillsborough County

The center, at 9309 N Florida Ave., is a one-stop service center for families troubled by domestic violence. For information, call (813) 935-2015 or go to

fjchc.org.

Family Justice Center gathers faith leaders to address domestic violence 10/06/12 [Last modified: Saturday, October 6, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cheers, whoops for McCain's return, then impassioned speech

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — In high drama at the Capitol, Sen. John McCain on Tuesday delivered a crucial vote in the Republican drive to dismantle the health care law, a win for President Donald Trump and GOP leaders, and then leveled a broadside at how the GOP got there.

    In this image from video provided by C-SPAN2, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. is embraced by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of N.Y. as he arrives of the floor of the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. [C-SPAN2 via AP]
  2. For starters: Slumping LoMo, Dickerson not in Rays lineup tonight vs LHP

    Blogs

    1B Logan Morrison and LF Corey Dickerson, two of the main slumpers in the Rays lineup, are not in tonight's lineup with the Orioles throwing LHP Wade Miley.

    Logan Morrison is 0-for-12 on this homestand.
  3. Pence breaks tie as Senate votes to begin debating 'Obamacare' repeal

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The Senate narrowly voted Tuesday to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the health care law, taking a pivotal step forward after the dramatic return of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who cast a crucial vote despite his diagnosis of brain cancer.

    Vice President Mike Pence (R) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus arrive on Capitol Hill, Tuesday in Washington, D.C. [Getty Images]
  4. Rubio helps GOP secure votes to proceed on health care debate

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans secured enough votes to proceed to debate on health care proposals, with Marco Rubio of Floirda joining in.

  5. Ex-Buc Booger McFarland becomes ABC college football analyst

    Blogs

    Former Bucs defensive lineman Booger McFarland is continuing his broadcasting rise by joining ABC's studio coverage for the upcoming college football season, ESPN announced Tuesday.

    Former Bucs lineman Booger McFarland (No. 92) will become an ABC studio analyst this college football season.