Union and The Family Place Team Up to help make Sundays Safe

by Emily Roberts | Sep 16, 2014

Union Coffee and the Family Place Team Up on Safe on Sunday

September 3, 2014
by Sheron C. Patterson
North Texas Conference News

When a coffeehouse and a domestic violence shelter unite to fight abuse, the results are something new and innovative for victims and abusers. Together, Union Coffee House and the Family Place are launching S.O.S. — Safe on Sunday — a domestic violence prevention campaign this month.

S.O.S. offers domestic violence awareness and prevention training for pastors and professionals at Union Coffee House, in order that sermons on domestic violence can be preached every Sunday in October. S.O.S also seeks to recruit as many churches and organizations as possible to spread the word of hope and healing for victims and abusers. Lay people are asked to spread the word among their personal and professional contacts.

What is the word?

Sunday is the No. 1 day of the week for domestic violence reports.

Churchgoers are just as likely as the general public to be domestic violence victims and abusers.

Most victims and abusers have never heard the church address family violence in sermons, prayers, Sunday school or other church programming.

Union Coffee House is a contemporary United Methodist worship place that uses “the energy of great coffee” to unite people and impact issues such as hunger and juvenile delinquency. The Rev. Michael Baughman, who leads Union Coffee, actually has domestic violence awareness in his blood.

“I didn’t know much about domestic violence until my mother took a position as the executive director of Jersey Battered Women’s Services,” he said. “Shortly after that, I learned that domestic violence was just as prevalent in the church as it was in the rest of society. I started to talk about domestic violence in church and was amazed at how many stories emerged from people I loved who were victims.

“After Mayor Mike Rawlings’ march against domestic violence a year and a half ago, I preached the following Sunday [Palm Sunday] about domestic violence at University Park UMC,” he said.

Paige Flink, executive director of the Family Place, was in the congregation.

The Family Place is a Dallas-based domestic violence awareness and prevention center that provides free, comprehensive services to prevent abuse and support victims on the path from fear to safety.

In 2013, it served 11,758 clients.

Flink told Baughman that one of the most difficult groups to get involved in the domestic violence movement was churches.

“I shared that story with members of the Union community, and we decided to team up and try to address the challenge,” he said.

“Focusing on the faith communities to reach domestic violence victims makes perfect sense,” Flink said. “Research shows that the first person a victim reaches out to is a pastor. If that pastor supports a patriarchal system or does not know how to help her, she will not return.”

Flink started volunteering at the Family Place about 28 years ago and has led the center for 17 years.

Flink offered a checklist for pastors and church professionals.

The Family Place has a large batterer intervention and prevention program.

Last year, 1,000 men went through the program, ordered by the court system to attend 24 weeks, and paying a fee to do so.

“Our program makes a huge difference. We track them and 92 percent do not re-offend. Stopping male violence is a community effort,” Flink said. “We play into it when we laugh at jokes or hear him put her down. It is hard for men to confront another man. Do not turn the other way.”

Abusers, she said, “are little boys who are broken inside.”

Read more at North Texas Conference News.