By Tiffany Vail
Associate Conference Minister for Communications
“'She says she won’t, but I bet she will.' Before I was raped, these lyrics didn't faze me. In fact, this song was part of my playlist for running. But after I was raped, those lyrics made my stomach turn with agony. Because I said I won’t, and he still raped me."
Those were the words the Rev. Kari Nicewander used in an invitation to fellow clergy this week, urging them to attend A Presentation & Panel on Rape Culture & Violence,
a Conference event being held Nov. 16, at 9:30 AM at Spring Glen Church UCC in Hamden
. Nicewander is one of the panelists.
"Pastors need to know how to respond to people like me, when we tell the truth about what has happened to us. And pastors need to know how to respond to rape culture, when it tells our young men, 'You know she wants it,' and introduces the idea of 'slut seeking missiles' in major movies," she wrote.
"Clergy friends, please come to this event. I will be on the panel, and I would really appreciate your attendance," she wrote. "We need to know how to respond to survivors of rape and sexual violence, and how to confront rape culture. It is everywhere. And it hurts."
The event is being planned by a team pulled together by Connecticut Conference Minister The Rev. Kent J. Siladi after, he recalls, he was "shaken to the core" when he heard the recording of then Presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.
"I felt compelled to have our Conference respond in some way to the issues surrounding rape culture and violence against women," he said. "I pulled together a team -- all women with the exception of me -- led by Regional Minister The Rev. Tamara Moreland. They are working to find ways for our Conference to take the lead on helping pastors and leaders to address the issues and to provide resources that could equip them and all of us in addressing the systemic issues of the treatment of women and the abuses of power."
The team visited the Women's Center at the University of Connecticut, and went on to plan the upcoming event, which is primarily aimed at enhancing awareness among clergy about the culture of rape and abuse and equipping them them to respond.
The morning will feature presentations by the Rev. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis,
Co-founder and Senior Pastor of God Can Ministries, United Church of Christ. Dr. Davis serves as the Director of Programs for the Education and Family Life Institute for individuals and families who are impacted by domestic violence. She is a career service Police Officer with the Chicago Police Department for over 30 years and is currently serving as one of their full-time Police Chaplains. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor with the McCormick Theological Seminary, teaching Sexual and Domestic violence, and has taught the same at the Chicago Theological Seminary.
The panel discussion will take place in the afternoon. Joining Nicewander will be the Rev Dr Molly Louden, Episcopal Priest and Psychotherapist, and Mary Jane Foster, President and CEO of Interval House, the state's largest domestic violence organization.
The event is being offered at no charge
, and is being funded by the Trustees for the Fund of Ministers.
A continental breakfast and lunch are included.
To attend, please RSVP to Emily McKenna (or by phone at 860.761.7114) by Nov. 7.