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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Pray and Break Bread: The Value of Christian Public Leadership in the Work of Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence

For the first Pray & Break Bread urban and multicultural immersion trip of the year, Contextual Learning team members Katherine Parent and April Winebrenner-Palo led a group of 11 Luther Seminary students out of our campus, into the city, and on a deep journey of listening and learning on the topics of intimate partner and sexual violence.
 
The unbelievable, hard-working, deeply compassionate advocates at Jewish Domestic Abuse Collaborative in Minnetonka, the Sexual Violence Center in North Minneapolis, and the Domestic Abuse Project in Whittier all took special time out of their days to talk with us about the work they do to end domestic and sexual violence. From providing family and legal services to practicing non-violent listening skills, from training law enforcement on improved responses to sexual assault to engaging clinical therapy for recovery from trauma, each organization is doing an immense amount of life-saving work. Each site approaches this work from a unique perspective, giving us insight into the many effective forms that advocacy, crisis response and caring can take. 
 
Our hosts brought unique attention to the role of faith communities and faith leaders in the work of ending domestic and sexual violence. We talked about the power Christian public leaders have to proactively set a shame-free message of safety and understanding in their communities, to practice empathetic listening and non-violent communication at crucial moments in the trauma process, and to work with survivors who seek to make spiritual meaning as part of positive re-connection with the world.

Our student participants engaged in thoughtful, wholehearted discussion of theological and pastoral tools for engaging the overwhelming number of people in our faith communities affected by sexual and domestic violence. Over delicious pizza at Black Sheep restaurant, we named ways this trauma-sensitive learning intersects with our own healing journeys and the many ways we hope to continue to grow as advocates and Christian public leaders. Both our hosts and participants expressed strong enthusiasm for bringing sexual and domestic violence trainings to Luther Seminary's campus in the future. 
 
A big thank you to our hosts, organizers and student participants for making this a memorable, powerful day! Also, thank you to Bethlehem Lutheran Church, the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project, the Luther Seminary Student Council, and the Martin Luther Jr. Chair for Justice and Christian Community at Luther Seminary, who have financially supported this project.

Peace,

Katherine and April

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