Question for the Week:
In the past year, we’ve read alarming news on the rise of violence against women, especially during the pandemic. Reading the news about two particular femicides that occurred in Puerto Rico in the spring and news reports shared about protests happening and organizations asking for concrete actions from the government, not much was heard in the continental US about this. In fact, one could argue not much is said in general about the topic and about the response of the church to these evils. Being that this is Domestic Violence Awareness month, could you share what we, as a church, are doing to raise awareness about gender-based violence and violence against women to bring about, support or engage in long-standing change?
Special Guest Co-Host:
Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Educator, Ruling Elder & Past Co-Moderator of the 223rd General Assembly
Rev. Medeline Alvarez, Presbiterio del Noroeste in Puerto Rico
Courtney Hoekstra, Associate for Advocacy Committee Support in the Presbyterian Mission Agency | Gender-based violence in Puerto Rico |
Statement on Gender-Based Violence in Puerto Rico (English)
Statement on Gender-Based Violence in Puerto Rico (Español)
Report on Gender & Leadership in the PC(USA) version 1
Report on Gender & Leadership in the PC(USA) version 2
PC(USA) News Stories:
Presbyterians in Puerto Rico seek an end to domestic violence (English)
Violencia Domestica en Puerto Rico
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) stands with churches in Puerto Rico speaking out against femicide
La Iglesia Presbiteriana (EE. UU.) apoya a las iglesias de Puerto Rico que protestan contra el feminicidio
PC(USA) Reports & Resources:
Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
Office of Public Witness
Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns
Domestic Violence Resources:
National Domestic Violence Hotline (English): 1-800-787-3224
National Domestic Violence Hotline (Español): 1-800-787-3224
PC(USA) helpline for cases of abuse involving church leaders: 866-607-7233
00:03 – Simon Doong
Hello and welcome to a matter of faith a presby podcast, the podcast where we respond to your questions and comments on issues of faith, social justice, and church life. Don't be afraid to write in and ask your question, because if it matters to you, it matters to us. And it just might be a matter of faith.
00:21 – Lee Catoe
whether it be faith in God, faith and others or faith in yourself. We are brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and unfound the interactive journal on Christian social justice for the Presbyterian Church USA. I am your host, Lee Catoe.
00:38 – Simon Doong
and I'm your host Simon Doong.
00:41 – Lee Catoe
Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions. Well, hello everyone and welcome to a pretty I won't I'm really I don't like to use Word special because special makes it sound like i don't know i don't sound like but this is a very amazing and different and wonderful episode of the podcast as a matter of faith a Presby podcast because not only am I joined with by Simon We are also joined by a special guest co host that Simon is going to introduce to the listeners out there.
01:20 – Simon Doong
Yes. If you've been following the podcast, you may recognize this name and recognize her wonderful voice. Joining us as co-host today is Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri an educator, ruling elder and past co moderator of the 223rd General Assembly. Vilmarie, thanks so much for being with us today.
01:42 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
And thank you, Simon and Lee for the invitation to be co hosting with you this amazing opportunity, you know that I am a big fan. And I should have a sign or something. Big, big fan of a matter of faith of Crosby podcast, and it is a joy to be with you both.
02:02 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, we're gonna get you. We might get you like a little like patch or a little badge that says like number one fan. Yeah, on it. Yeah. Cuz we're very appreciative of your support, and and all the things that you do for this church. And yeah, we're so excited to have you on today.
02:22 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Yeah, always, my siblings always, you know, and if you have T shirts, I would wear those too.
02:29 – Lee Catoe
love. You are not the first one to request a matter of faith swag. So we will we'll have to look into that. And we have some other really special guests with us. And Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri would you like to introduce them to our audience?
02:42 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Yes, of course. We first have Courtney Hoekstra associate for advocacy committee support in the Presbyterian mission agency. Hey, Courtney, it's good for us to have you here. And then waiting to be here. And then we also have the Reverend Madeline Alvarez from the Presbyterian in Norway as well.
03:00 - Madeline Alvarez
Hello, thanks for the invitation.
03:02 – Simon Doong
And so the reason that we've gathered these great folks here today is because we have a question that is asking for a lot of insight into a very serious topic. And we wanted to make sure we had the right people in the conversation to be able to bring some really good perspectives for folks. So Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, what is the question that we're going to be talking about today?
03:24 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Yes, and it's a question that has a little bit of a background. And I love those kinds of questions, almost like case studies, my teachers heart. So here it goes. In the past year, we've read alarming news on the rise of violence against women, especially during the pandemic, reading the news about two particular femicides that occurred in what Rico in the spring, and news reports shared about the protests happening and organizations asking for concrete action from the government. Not much was heard in the continental US about this. In fact, one could argue not much is said in general about the topic and about the response of the church to these evils. Being that this is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, could you share what we as a church are doing to raise awareness about gender based violence and violence against women to bring about support or engage in long standing change?
04:35 - Madeline Alvarez
Yes, Puerto Rico has experienced startling increases in Acts of gender based violence and femicide in recent decades. In 2019 of the 7021 cases of domestic violence reported 5896 occurred against women. That's an 83% of the cases reported. Although It is believed that actual numbers are higher since not all cases are recorded, and 2020 more than 45 minute sides were registered, which had its most atrocious moment between September and October of 2020. When in a period of four weeks 17 murders of women were recorded. It's also important to add that cases of gender violence have been a sanctuary after the passage of Hurricane Maria, and 2017 and now have been exacerbated due to the Coronavirus. For years advocacy groups have been requesting the government of various administrations to declare a state of emergency due to these increases. In January of this year, the newly elected Governor petropia luisi issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency and created a committee called body would have been hsiung avoid your risk Kappa Yadu kacian de la violenza. To handle in English, it means prevention support rescue and education on gender violence. It's an AD AD was bad Advisory Committee recommending policies and measures to comply with the objectives of the executive worker declaring the state of emergency due to those increases in gender violence cases. And just recently, in late August, the governor also signed a bill amending the penal code to include a new subsection for the purpose of recognizing and establishing the miticide and transfer miticide as conduct that constitute the crime of murder in the first degree. Sadly, despite this law, we already have two cases being tried. So as we can see, the issue is a continuous one, especially here on the island. So to your question of what we as a church are doing to raise awareness about gender based violence and violence against women to bring about support or engage in long standing change. Back in May, there were two very high profile cases. They were gruesome one was the story of casela anger, three guests, Ortiz, she was 27 years old, she was pregnant, and her body was found floating in the San Jose lagoon. And the other case was on Vedanta resources, who was 35 and despite having requested a restraining order from authorities in her body was found partially burned in VA. And so suited this these two cases. Many of our ministers and elders were upset, of course, as was the whole island. So this, this, of course, led us, you know, to just question and say, what are we doing as a church, we need to do something on this issue. So as the moderator for the Education Committee of the Presbyterian noise thing in Puerto Rico, I asked ministers and elders if they were interested in collaborating on a project against gender violence, and thank God many replied, Yes. And as a fan, we've been meeting to see how we can organize especially on the part of educating our clergy as well as leaders of the church and and the church as a whole. So by the time this podcast airs, we would have had our first educational events, which will take place on October 9 of 2021. Precisely on Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we invited two professors from the of angelical seminary of Puerto Rico to be our speakers. One is Dr. Agustina movie spoon. Yes. The other one is my belief. I will add Rodriguez. The first has a PhD in systematic theology, and the second has a PhD, or a Psy D, and clinical psychology, and both of them are experts on the subject, and they both are activists as well. So we're looking forward to that. And this event will be recorded. So hopefully, everybody that's listening will be able to hear this, and I believe that translation will also be made. So what else are we doing, we're also trying to identify educational material for ministers and women's groups to use as Bible studies on this issue. And, of course, we know this is a long term project, but I believe that is one that needs to be be addressed not only for our church in Puerto Rico, but for the entire body of Christ. Interestingly, as the spirit will lead and and to me, this has been a blessing because like I mentioned, this all took place in May of two those two high profile cases. So by the end of May, I think it was one of the ministers that's part of our group here in the islands as part of the because the committee for women's concerns, and she called me one day telling me there was going to be a meeting that was convened by some Uganda, who was the associate for the Hispanic, Latino and intercultural congregational support. And she wanted me to go to this meeting. So I said, of course, so when I got to the meeting, I I learned that in reality, it was convened due to a concern raised for our past co moderator in mighty soon phone regarding this issue of gender violence in Puerto Rico. So I'm on that first meeting, we were asked the church in Puerto Rico for our church in Puerto Rico was asked what we needed from the church on the mainland. And the first thing I mentioned, I remember was that we would like to have a statement from the advocacy committee for a woman's concerns. And so thank God that already is out there. And it was published in June, if I'm not mistaken. So that has been also a blessing for us. And in addition to that, we've been made meeting with this very same group convened by or semi Donda on a weekly basis. We there was there's a bunch of other people I don't know if you want me to mention who they are, but let's go for it. And like I mentioned, it's about some Uganda being muddy is there Courtney? Danny Lee Nadia, she's the moderator of the senate here in Puerto Rico Shinya de Leonard associate gender and racial justice person, Michelle Munoz Vega, she's 20 to 20 peacemaking award recipient in Puerto Rico, Beth over with racial equity and women's intercultural intercultural ministries. We also have Adrian Gonzalez, who's with PDA, Reverend Lady salaallah, Santoni. She's a member of the advaced advocacy committee for women's concerns. And we also have Gotti that voters she is the moderator for the women at the senate level. And we have leucite me Rhonda, who is also the moderator for Mohit SP Spanner. So I think so it's a pretty big group, and pretty diverse. But what we've done in that group is we've divided into two parts, the educational part, and the advocacy part. And we'll let Courtney talk about the rest of that.
12:58 – Courtney Hoekstra
You gave such a great background and synopsis of how this all really held the Holy Spirit, as you said, sort of pushed all of the pieces together in a way that has created this team that is pretty awesome. And that I'm really honored to be a part of, but like you said, we actually have two members of the advocacy committee for women's concerns currently who are actually from Puerto Rico. And so this, like you said, it just all kind of came together at the same time. And so with Bill Murray raising the issue, and then your suggestion of the statement, which is interesting, because we've had some resistance in the past occasionally to Oh, it's just another statement. But this was a great learning, I think for us to remember that sometimes those statements putting those out, at least as an initial placeholder of we're getting to work on this isn't really important piece in terms of solidarity and making sure that folks around the church know that at the national level that this is hitting the radar and that something's going to happen with that. So actually, that was something that I have a lot of gratitude toward Madeleine for, just as a reminder to all of us that those things do matter, particularly when they're used as an initial piece, right. And then this awesome team of folks who've been working together to sort of keep the momentum going with the work and the podcasts happening and webinars, and we've had a couple of present your new service articles going out. And so the advocacy and getting the word out just continues and I know that we kind of have on our radar to to continue addressing what gaps there are, as far as Presbyterian social witness policy goes the most recent as far as policy that addresses it's just specifically domestic violence, but that's from 2001. So as you can imagine, there's probably quite a few gaps for us to fill in from 2001. So that's also a people That's sort of in the background being looked at while this group is still turning its wheels and making things happen as we go.
15:07 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Yeah, and thank you, Madeline. And thank you, Courtney, this this group is a grassroot group, it stems out of, of a convergence of voices. And I will use that word at convergence of voices that we're all thinking the same thing. At the same time, this is the work of the Holy Spirit, we believe we were all thinking about the reality of gender based violence and violence against women, particularly, initially, of this two cases in the island. But as we opened that conversation up, you know, it's like opening up Pandora's box. And and we realized that there there is a lot happening out there, we began asking the question, is there a group a support group that is that exists within the pcusa, nationwide? We could not find one we know there was once or maybe does still exist? A network a to create awareness for against domestic violence. But But this are things and questions that we begin asking ourselves in general, are we we have more materials in other languages, you know, for our siblings to speak Korean, for our siblings that speak Spanish, we are all one church. And there are more materials in English and less materials in other languages and just putting it out there. And so we, it came out, or, you know, this, this thing came out organically. And, you know, I'm grateful for that. And we all are, and the modeling and or Courtney, I love that expression is, you know, filling the gap. There, there are gaps and if we have more eyes, we can see them. So in particularly, when we are part of a denomination such as ours, that is so connected, how can what are the things that maybe we need to do in order to be educating people, or, because again, this conversation begins out of a need in, in, in Puerto Rico, you know, in the weather church in Puerto Rico has been doing, but this is a global matter. This is a national matter. I was I was reading some statistics that said, globally, this is from you and women, even before the covid 19 pandemic, and one in three women experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. And if one in three women experienced that those are women in the church as well, this are women everywhere. So filling the gaps. What does it look like? Either Courtney or Madeline?
17:59 – Courtnry Hoekstra
I'll jump in. So this is Courtney. It To me, it looks like First of all, one of the things I think that has made this grassroots group, so successful, or at least as far as like, moving things forward and getting some actual actions to happen and education efforts going out is that it's led by those who are directly who know the most. And some of those of us who are also partnering in the work are really following the lead. And so, you know, just like the statement from AC WC that came from a specific request, here's one thing we need, and we follow that and move forward. So I think it's really important to have a variety of voices and experiences shared in order to move forward as opposed to say, just leaving it to one, one group, like just the advocacy committee, although we do have quite a diversity of voices at this point. Just really being intentional about all of those experiences and voices being at the table. I think we need to have a more holistic approach, honestly, to the issue than we have in the past. I think it's been easy when you look back at some of the actions that have made the radar as far as General Assembly and whatnot. It's, I think, perhaps unfortunately, more palatable for a 90% white denomination to point to this issue when it's in a different country or it's specifically talking about black, brown or Asian folks. And while those issues are essential for us to also talk about and address, it's important that we don't see this issue as an out there issue because as your name a these are the you know, these are women in the pews in the pulpit, at the national level of the church across the board. So this is not an issue of people of color. This is this is an issue of people. And I think we could do a lot of work also to sort of start to unpack The sexism and patriarchy that is so embedded in our theology and our preaching and teaching, even the ways we talk about God, to sort of get at the roots of how these ideas are perpetuated, that end up in misogyny and violence and violent acts against women. So those are some of the things I would name like you had mentioned to me, at some point you we could probably do 12 podcasts on this, but I'll leave it at that for now. Those are some of the highlights of things I've been thinking about.
20:32 – Madeline Alvarez
Yeah, this is Madeline, I'd like to add, I think I'm one of the things that I consider very important is that we talk about this in church. And I say that, because these are topics that we all know, you know, and situations that we all know exist. But for some reason, we don't hear very much about them from the, from the pulpit. I don't want to point this to Puerto Rico, because I believe this is, like you said, Courtney, the main issue, the main issue here is patriarchy. And also our discourse in church, you know, if we still have this, there's this course where women must be submitted to men, we need to unpack that, you know, and not just use it as a pretext. So, um, I think the main, the main concern here is just really starting to talk about it in church. And having especially these women women's groups address this issue, because I know for a fact that there are many women in churches that are suffering, gender violence, so um, we need to really, you know, and not just talk about it, but do something about it, and also help these women know that they are not alone, that they can count on the church to help them get out of this situation.
22:06 – Lee Catoe
And also, the church has been an instigator of domestic violence and sexual violence, the church has been perpetuating it directly within the walls of the church, and within the culture of the church. And we talked to we talked to Edwin, who y'all mentioned was a part of this group before this, and this is an important conversation for men to also be having to, for man to take responsibility, accountability. And Simon, I have this podcast and we are both male identifying. And so for, for men who are listening, and to take up and I'll just just say this to take accountability for the ways in which we perpetuate patriarchy, but also in a church that also has it within its walls as well, historically, currently, where do we begin? And that were a lot of the times in these conversations women who, and and other gender expressions have really bear the weight of doing this work when mal identifying individuals have? Have not and are the perpetuators of it. So where do we begin that within the end this conversation as well, specifically, as we're talking with the church?
23:36 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Part of what you're saying, but what keeps resonating in my mind is the pulpit, the pulpit, and Madeline mentioned that and I would like to hear Madeline your thoughts on this being a pastor. Yeah. The reality is that we have normalized behavior towards people and we have as a church said that that is what God says, and as a church I mean in general, I don't only see you know, I don't only mentioned the pcusa because we have come a long way we have a long way to go but we have come a long long way when recognizing this. But if we have normalized that you know, virtuous woman, you know, image and the domestic codes in in the letters in the New Testament to I don't know if that word exists, but they normalize that and normalize actually talking about violence against women and others that are experiencing a violence against them because of a harmful understandings of what the Bible says. And a our area when we talk about church, we people think about the building but Church is not the building the church is the people. And we gathered to listen to worship God and to listen to the word. So what is being said or shared from the pulpit needs to be a word of freedom, a word of liberty, a word of love, a word of, of accepting acceptance, and a word of you know, you are created in God's image, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, you do not deserve to be mistreated or to be abused. So those kinds of words from our pulpit and recognizing our own, our own complicity in silence, in looking the other way, in this guy, seeing this guy seeing a mistreatment and abuse, as piety and discretion is not an option, we we need to be more vocal.
25:58 – Madeline Alvarez
Exactly, I think, for me, the main, the main way to start talking about this is educating. And and also, we need to come to grips with this, this fear that sometimes we have as ministers, because let's be honest, sometimes we know what's going on. But we want to dress it because we are fearful that so in such we'll leave or that all these things that nobody wants to talk about. But, you know, if we don't address the reality, and if we don't name, we need to name it, and say it. The church cannot tolerate this, if we are all created in God's image. And we believe and we profess that God loves us, and that He created us for good, and that he wants us to live good lives. Why do we not address this from the pulpit? So it's, you know, I know, it's not easy, and I'm sure many that will hear this will say, Well, sure, this isn't fair to say. But the truth is, we just need to start talking about it and start being real about it. And you know, begin to walk with people, and helping them to understand where you will not tolerate this, you do not have to tolerate being beaten or being psychologically tortured, because that's what it is. So you need to educate really is and and I know it's I said it in the PNS report. It This is something that I probably will never see in my lifetime. But it has to start somewhere. So we just really need to start educating people and helping them understand scripture for what it is, you know, God is a loving God. And I think for me, at least for me, that's the main message in the Bible, God's love, God's acceptance, knowing that I'm not perfect, that I know that I can mess up and know that my, my loving God still is there for me, and that he's willing to just extend his his arms around me and say, Hey, get up, start walking again. You know? So that's the main message for me God's love God's acceptance. And of course, how do we learn that through education?
28:38 – Simon Doong
I really appreciate that. You mentioned the importance of the message and the education coming from the pulpit. Maybe this is only because I've sort of become more aware of it in recent years. But I can't tell you, I can tell you a very few number of times where I even heard something related to say, racism mentioned from the pulpit, and that's very recent, I heard, my pastor said, we who are white are complicit in this, this and this, and I was like, Whoa, that's great. You said that. I haven't heard that in the last 28 years of my life. I'm glad it's being said, but it's just the beginning of a conversation. I have not heard a pastor stand up and say, we who are men are complicit in this. And we need to change this. And this is where why in Scripture, why we need to change this is we need to be in line with these values. Not these behaviors are these expectations of what it means to be a man in a relationship and something that I've been trying to wrestle with and maybe you all can help me think about this is if our churches are not up if we're not sending that message from the pulpit. How is anyone in the congregation supposed to feel supported? If they are experiencing an incident or incidents of domestic violence, if they Church is not going to be the place of support, a place that you can go to other I mean, there are great resources out there. But from a fundamentally theological perspective, the church should be one place, you can always go. And if the church won't be that place of refuge, that place of that can surround someone, I don't know where else folks can go, if the church isn't going to provide that. So I don't, and I think that just speaks to the importance of hearing that from the pulpit, not just for what it means to trying to change culture, and, and norms. But what it means to those who may be witness it or experience it, that they're not alone in this and that they have a place in that congregation, regardless of what's going on what they're experiencing, and that they have support around them. But I don't think we always make those connections together, we just see everything as these individual incidents. And as as, as everyone has been saying, it's an issue out there. It's not an issue in here. But when someone's in your midst who is experiencing that and doesn't feel comfortable talking about it, it is an issue in here. So I just am really grateful for, for what you all have have said about that. And I wonder if Courtney, you talked about this a little bit earlier. But how do we get things like this onto the agenda for things like PTSD, I know you talked about the sort of the, that the the timeline for how this particular issue came in. But it seems so easy that there are so many issues that just don't even make it onto the radar. And I'll be honest, this wasn't on my radar until I saw the news blip from Presbyterian news service. And we started having this conversation. So what are ways to sort of help gets issues like this more into the public eye in the Presbyterian space as well as more broadly.
31:52 – Courtney Hoektra
I think there's a number of ways this obviously just happened organically, right. And through the advocacy committee for women's concerns. That's one place where issues are raised, and then they have direct access to the General Assembly. So that's the quick route to get things sort of nationally seen and heard. I would say that, you know, the General Assembly is one place. So overtures on that. And going through the advocacy committees as one example is one way but I mean, in the meantime, we've seen the Office of Public witness has also put out information about for example, the need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. So that's another place to I mean, any Presbyterian can raise any person can raise their voice to these offices in the national church to say, Hey, this is happening here, and we need to hear something or we need an action alert, we need to know what to say to our senators, we need more information. And often there's good response, right, and action alerts go out across the nation, so on and so forth. So those are just some of the ways I know also, I really should name to that the Presbyterian ministry at the United Nations does a lot with violence against women, globally, and especially in supporting a group a delegation each year to the Commission on the Status of Women. So that's another place where folks can plug in. And that's again, that's a global, global peace. So the peace USA has this on the radar, and there are places to plug in and places to raise your voice. But I think what for for us we're looking for the advocacy committee, we're looking to sort of pull the pieces together into into a holistic place and that hasn't been done for some time.
33:40 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Yeah, and I think that providing a coordinate is great information because providing those resources to have it you know, of the of the within grasp, I'm trying to look for the word, but to have it within grasp, I think it's important part part of the I think that part of the struggle with a domestic violence and gender based violence and violence against women, within our church communities, is again, we don't necessarily know how to save things or how to tackle things that are consider or issues that are considered taboo. So there's there's this talk part that this policy part there and we're really good at First Presbyterian writing you know, we're wonderful at creating this kind of thing and I've been on presently I'm a cradle to grave Presbyterian, so I know how good we are in this. Sometimes the problem is how we make all those call to action, action. You know how and and that's a personal response and that's a local response. We might think globally, but we act locally. You know, it's it's, we have it out there, how can we Put that into the conversation in the local congregation or how does that make it into the pulpit of so and so pastor and so and so plays? Or how does that make it into a support group in, you know, as part of the presbytery or how those stab you know translates into a training for the entire presbytery or Senate event or something like that. So So it's, it's, we as Presbyterians need to understand and I go around this, trying to find the words in both languages. We do have things that are in place, I think that that where we need to work more is the things that we have in place, take them and use them. And there are policies that certainly need to be updated, they need to be a just reworked fade to 21st century standards and to the current events that are happening with the pandemic and, and other things that are happening in society right now. And but certainly, there are already pieces of a there there's already a policy that we have voted in as a general assembly and as Presbyterians that can be already used, that can be used in our churches to actually affect some so that's that's already there is is the turn to effect change. Because we are we are dealing with stereotypes we are dealing with a things that we have heard about the particular roles of people, different people within the church, we are dealing with that that's in the bag over in the back of our minds, you know that this stereotypes are walk with us, in many ways, still trying to eliminate the stigma or the stereotype in order to be able to act, that's a whole other, maybe podcast and conversation, but but it still needs to know, follow the talk with the walk, we have called for action actually respond to the call for action. So that and that's part of the reason of this podcast, if you know, if you need permission, in your mind, if you need an invitation, if you didn't know where to look, you know, look at the resources that are here in the podcast, and a Google the names of the people that are here and advocacy, a committee of women's concerns, Office of Public witness type and say espanol, so that you can find the resources in Spanish or in Korean. But you know, if you need you needed this, this is your official call, we have things out there, maybe they need to be updated, but we do have them we have the resources and we will you know, we will provide them, we will find a way for you to have them. But there this needs to be followed by action because too many of our a people that are experiencing violence are sitting in the pulpits, listening to a harmful message of a, you know, a harmful in interpretation of a theological interpretation of the Scripture, and are feeling like they be served what is happening to them that they don't know how to get out of that cycle. And it is up to us to help them realize that they are beloved children of God.
38:25 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, um, so yeah, I keep thinking back to, you know, growing up. I'm from rural South Carolina, and in small communities and the South, you know, he didn't talk about if, you know, Uncle Joe and his wife got into an argument and you know, she has a black eye like it's kind of a people know, and yeah, there's not like he said, Don't worry, there's not that permission, or there's not this kind of this, this automatic push to say like this is not right, and we have to do something about it. There's a hesitancy layered on social norms and layered on what's accepted and that's their business that's private. It's kind of this individualism kind of idea of like, that's their ally, and that is what they have to handle that for themselves. And and I've also seen it in kind of where I'm, like, I'm from it's there is that, you know, the submissiveness and the theology and so all that mix together and, and yet a lot of these churches I was a part of, or pcusa I mean, I was raised pcusa. I didn't hear any of this and all this was going on in my church. It was going on to my family for years. My family knew my family knew everything that was happening. And yet there was something there was that like, silence and that individualism, and people don't know that the the this church has has have policies that are way before their time. And, and yet they don't know. And yet I feel like if they did know, their what it's it's such a break and what the culture is and it has to like there has to be that continual reminder. And so it just made me think about like, yeah, that local context and how it's important to know the context in which you're in and how to equip leaders in those places to just learn that this is, this is how this area works. Because every area is different. But yeah, that's so important, because just thinking about to where I came from, and is still like that, I mean, we want to say, I know things have come a long way, but they're still places where you still don't say anything. You don't mention it. And so yeah, we have so much work to do. And it's so much about that local context. I don't know where I was going with that. I just now I just wanted to just throw that out there in case somebody wanted to know, expand.
41:12 – Madeline Alvarez
Listening to you, you know, I'm just thinking about there's so many issues. And, you know, sometimes we we say, well, the pastor never mentions anything like that. But then again, I don't think we can leave this all to the Minister. We, you know, I think pastors and and the sessions need to get together and create groups, because of course, no, no one person can deal with all of these issues, it's impossible, unless we want to kill the person. So you know, we need to begin to work, you know, in groups, we need to begin to stop seeing like you just said this as individuals, you know, the church is communal, we're supposed to be a body working together towards a purpose. I think when when we get that now, right, we'll begin to see changes. But of course, it takes time. And you know, I know it takes time, but there has to be a beginning.
42:16 – Courtney Hoekstra
I think that also until we're ready to really reckon with what is real, and that is that we should be having equitable treatment across genders, until the church is really willing to address that. We're not actually I don't think ever going to get to a place of being past this. Because, you know, on one hand, yes, it's a life or death issue for many women right now, right in this moment, and for many Presbyterians and many women who are Presbyterians. But it's also an underlying thing that we all experience on a day to day basis, any of us who are not cisgender men deal with the fact that no, actually this across the board, believing that we're all equal thing isn't actually real yet. I mean, we hope and pray that it will be someday and that's what it's going to take for us all to thrive. But I think that that's part of what has to come from our being community together is really reinforcing that. And it's been interesting to me to see in the work I'm doing in this context, how often gender is seen as an intersectional issue to almost every issue, right? So you can take on poverty, racism, you can take just about any issue, and at the, at the lowest of the low the worst treatment, those who are suffering the most are the women within that particular issue. I mean, you talk about gun violence and how that intersects with with intimate partner violence and so on. And yet we don't want to take it on as as its own issue. Sure, we'll address that along with this or along with that. But I really think until we take seriously that this is still a huge problem for us. And that equity is not the reality at this point that we won't get to that place of full wholeness and healing.
44:16 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Yes, and now that you mentioned that corny, I would like to commend people the gender and leadership in the USA, a study that was published in 2016, because it shows the the reality of that goal that we still need to work on a that equity and that understanding of equality and equal rights in one one of the pieces and Courtney, you shared this with us earlier. One of the pieces in that particular report is that eight out of 10 female teaching elders with ministers of word and sacrament in the denomination have experienced Against gender bias in the form of discrimination, sexual harassment and or prejudicial statements, and that's within the leadership of our denomination so so there's there's a lot of underlying issues as well. And we need this, this work is a lifetime work, we need to continue doing our part, and raising awareness and opening safe spaces or providing safe spaces for these conversations to occur.
45:30 – Simon Doong
Well, we're really grateful for you all joining us, so that we can have this conversation in this space. And we hope to have some future conversations again. And we'll be sure to put links to all of the resources and documents that were mentioned in this episode in the show notes so that people can reference them and check them out for future use. We're really grateful to Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
for being a guest host with us today. Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, thank you so much.
46:05 – Lee Catoe
46:07 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
Thank you so much/. May I say something before we leave?
46:10 – Lee Catoe
46:11 - Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
I think it's very important. Many people will read will be reading those resources, hopefully, and many people will will be listening to our podcast. And I would like to say that if you are in danger right now, if you are a person who is experiencing domestic violence, violence against you in some way, if you're in danger right now, call 911. And if you or someone you know is experiencing violence and need help, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is 1-800-799-7233 1-800-799-7233. If you are a person within the pcusa, a church meter within the pcusa, according to provide this information for us, call 1866607723318666077233. If you are experiencing abuse, and you are within our church leaders, we are here. We love you, you are valuable, your life is valuable. Please contact somebody for help. And thank you again, all of you for the opportunity to be co hosting with you.
47:38 – Lee Catoe
Yeah, thank you, Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, and to our guests. Thank you all so much for being with us. We did want to mention that there is going to be a companion to this podcast that will be an all Spanish. And so there will be that podcast episode and there will be this podcast episode. So our siblings who speak Spanish will also be able to to listen and to be a part of this conversation. And so he wanted to mention that those two episodes will be published together, and they will come they will be there you know, just look and you'll see it. So again, thank you all so much for this and reminder, the links will be in the show notes. And we will talk to you again next week.
48:35 – Simon Doong
This has been the matter of faith podcast brought to you by the Presbyterian peacemaking program and unbound. If you would like to submit a question for discussion, you can do so at faith [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you see you next time.
48:51 – Lee Catoe
See you next time, y'all.
49:12 – Simon Doong
Hey, everyone, thanks for listening to Episode 33 a matter of faith of presby podcast, don't forget to subscribe, follow or like. It really helps a podcast out.
49:24 – Lee Catoe
And don't forget to leave us a review. Preferably five stars wherever you can leave a review. I don't know where you can these days, but leave one and do the five stars.
49:35 – Simon Doong
And don't forget to write in your question to faith [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you