Mennonite Central Committee is offering three seminars this spring for leaders who want to learn how to address sexualized violence in church and how to promote healthy sexuality and healthy masculinity.
The webinars are being offered as U.S. citizens are grappling with almost-daily news of sexual assault by prominent people and testimonies of millions of individuals through the #metoo movement. Churches also deal with sexual abuse and sexualized violence.
Sexualized violence is a term that covers a wide array of sexual offenses, including physical or psychological violence carried out through sexual means or by targeting a person’s sexuality. Examples include rape, sexual assault, psychological violence, such as manipulation and coercion, and sexual harassment.
“We hope that these webinars will provide churches and church institutions ways to create communities of care as we talk about healthy sexuality as well as sexual violence,” said Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, a leader of MCC’s We Will Speak Out campaign and MCC U.S. restorative justice coordinator.
The presenters, many who are pastors, speak from their expertise and practical experience.
The abbreviated webinar schedule, in Eastern Daylight Time, follows:
April 11, 3-4 p.m.: “Healthy sexuality in our congregations” This webinar will address questions, including “What role can the church play in fostering and supporting healthy views of sexuality?” Presenters are Katherine Goerzen and Benjamin Reynolds. Goerzen is co-pastor of Tabor Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas, and has created and led conversations on healthy sexuality in multiple congregations. Reynolds holds a doctorate in Theology, Ethics and Human Science and is pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago.
May 9, 3-4 p.m.: “Sexualized violence – How should churches respond?” This webinar will explain what sexualized violence is and suggest practical responses when it is present within a congregation. Presenters are Cyneatha Millsaps and Silvia Rios. Millsaps is pastor of Community Mennonite Church in Markham, Illinois, and MCC Great Lakes program director. Rios, office coordinator for West Coast MCC, works with crime victims and is a police chaplain.
June 13, 3-4 p.m.: “Healthy masculinity” Presenters are Glen Guyton and Isaac Villegas. Guyton is the incoming executive director of Mennonite Church USA and a passionate speaker, writer and an advocate for youth development. Villegas is pastor of Chapel Hill (North Carolina) Mennonite Fellowship. They will talk about how a church can prepare men to talk to their sons about healthy masculinity and sexual violence.
The webinars are offered as part of MCC U.S.’ participation with We Will Speak Out (WWSO), a coalition of Christian-based nonprofits, churches and organizations committed to ending sexual violence.
People who participated in MCC’s WWSO surveys and focus groups and other people with expertise in sexual assault prevention and church relations requested more resources for churches. Previously, MCC released a collection of printed resources, but these webinars will be the first audible, live resource on the topic.
For complete webinar descriptions and to register, visit mcc.org/wwso.