BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA (November 9, 2012) – Recent workshops and retreats for women who attend the Evangelical Covenant Church of Colombia are indications that the denomination is intent on preventing domestic violence and healing its victims, says Mary Lou Sander, Evangelical Covenant Church missionary.
Several hundred women in the Colombia Covenant Church already have begun to participate in the Mending the Soul (MTS) and Advocacy for Victims of Abuse (AVA) programs designed to help people respond to issues of violence.
The MTS material was presented to 140 women during the National Women Ministries Retreat held just outside Bogotá. According to its website, Mending the Soul “empowers communities and equips churches for ministry to those impacted by abuse. Foundational to Mending the Soul is the integration of scientific and social research on abuse with biblical and theological truth.” It is being used throughout the world.
The Evangelical Covenant Church Department of Women Ministries is partnering with Mending the Soul to provide the training in North America and Latin America. One hundred women participated during a recent training workshop at Covenant Christian Church in Bogotá, the largest congregation in the denomination.
Mónica Velásquez, who directs an organization promoting justice for women and children in Colombia, spoke at the retreat. Although she does not attend one of the denomination’s churches, Velásquez has been working closely with them as they coordinate efforts.
The church is recognizing that it must deal with these issues among its own members as well as society. Mending the Soul and AVA programs sponsored by the Colombia Covenant Church are helping “transform a violent macho culture that is changing towards equity, respect and dignified life God wants for all his sons and daughters,” she said.
Four Covenant churches in Medellín are using AVA material. “The people from the churches are responding well to the materials, asking good questions and desiring to raise awareness, to help prevent abuse, and to walk alongside those who are suffering from abuse,” said Sander.
Earlier this year, the AVA team in the city of Barranquilla, located on the northern coast of Colombia, held a series of training workshops in each of the churches there. “The responses were positive,” said Sander. “Many of the people want to learn more and to share what they had learned with others.”