Following reports in some independent Adventist media regarding an alleged case of abuse, the The Trans-European Division (TED) has prepared the following statement. We are unable to comment on an individual case, but this statement affirms our zero tolerance of abuse and violence in all its forms.
The TED affirms the dignity and worth of every individual and are opposed to all forms of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and violence.
Unfortunately abuse and violence may be experienced in various ways at all stages of life. For example, physical outbursts, coercion, rape and violence within a marital sexual relationship or the threat of violence by intimidating verbal and non-verbal behaviour. It also includes behaviour such as incest and the mistreatment or neglect of underage children by a parent or guardian. Violence against the elderly may be seen in physical, psychological, sexual, verbal, material, and medical abuse, or neglect. These are just some examples, but there are many more.
We believe that every individual is created in the image of God. Jesus was willing to die on the cross, so that all who accept his sacrifice, might have the gift of eternal life. During his ministry Jesus demonstrated love and compassion to all, leaving behind an example for us to follow. Violence and abuse have no place in relationships either within or outside the Church.
When confronted with abuse and violence we will, collectively and individually, respond by:
- Listening to and accepting those suffering from abuse, loving and affirming them as persons of value and worth.
- Providing a professional advocate (psychologist or counsellor) who is an intermediary between the victim and any committees and communications, so that they do not experience further trauma and abuse by being required to tell painful, private and personal stories in public contexts.
- Highlighting the injustices of abuse and speaking out in defence of victims, both within the community of faith and in society.
- Providing caring support to individuals and families impacted by abuse and violence.
- Guarding against the ostracism of either victims or perpetrators within the family or church community, while firmly holding perpetrators responsible for their actions.
- To accept our moral responsibility to be alert and responsive to abuse within the families of our congregations and our communities, and to declare that such abusive behaviour is a violation of Seventh-day Adventist Christian standards.
- Any indications or reports of abuse must not be minimized but seriously considered, and appropriate steps be taken to comply with the abuse reporting requirements of the authorities.
- Offering a ministry of reconciliation when the perpetrator’s repentance makes possible the contemplation of forgiveness and restoration in relationships. Repentance always includes acceptance of full responsibility for the wrongs committed, willingness to make restitution in every way possible, and changes in behaviour to eliminate the abuse.
- Being aware of our own limitations and consulting with professionals who are experts in this area so that further harm and distress is not caused through a lack of skill or information.
- Continually learning about current issues and practices in the area of abuse so that the best possible care can be provided to those who have been impacted by abuse and violence.
We have tried to live up to this across the Trans- European Division by supporting End-it-now which is a global Church initiative to advocate for an end to violence, particularly against women. To this end in some areas the Church has set up and supports women’s refuges – places where women and children can find safety and support away from an abusive situation. We recognise that there is more that can and must be done to protect the vulnerable. The Trans-European Division is in the process of reviewing all its policies on violence and abuse, and is working with all its entities to ensure that they have appropriate procedures for responding to allegations of abuse.
Let us be beacons of hope and places of refuge for those who have been hurt and damaged, providing light in a dark world.
From time to time the Seventh-day Adventist Church issues statements. These have formed the basis of the statement above, and may be read in their entirety below:
Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (2010)
Child Sexual Abuse (1997)
Family Violence (1996)
Statement on Abuse and Family Violence (1995)