Vicar uses Father’s Day to encourage positive role modelling

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Rev Tim Johnson says “Today we are focusing our service on the problem of Family Violence, hoping to better educate ourselves as a church on this issue, and to learn what we might do as individuals and as a community to respond to this.

Now you might be asking, “why are we talking about this in church?” Well as part of our process for coming up with our Church Vision and Strategy, members of parish council talked with organisations and leaders working in Diamond Creek to try and work out what are the main issues in our community. Some of our leaders chatted with the Police in Diamond Creek and the police officers shared with them that the biggest issue that they have to deal with is family violence. Roughly half of the assaults that happen in our community are family violence assaults. They occur in homes around us, they are done by loved family members, mostly husbands, male partners, and dads.

And because our Vision as a church is that we want to be engaged in the life of our local community, one of the goals we have set for this year is to educate ourselves on family violence, so that we are better equipped to support our community in this area.

This is a real issue in our community.

We want to be engaged in the life of our community.

And so we need to engage with this issue and know better how we can respond to it.

But you might also be asking, “Why are we talking about this today? On Father’s Day?”

Well I confess that when I first arranged for Ree to come and speak with us, I didn’t make the connection that 6th September was Father’s Day. But when I realized it was, I had a sudden moment of panic and then reflected that this was actually the ideal day that we should be considering this issue. The vast majority of family violence is perpetrated by men – it is perpetrated by husbands, male partners, and yes, fathers. But as Christian people who call God Father we know that the model for human fatherhood is the loving care, nurture and protection that God offers us. And violent, abusive, controlling and damaging behavior by men, even by Fathers, is a distortion of Fatherhood and completely out of step with God. Fatherhood is not violent.

What’s more as a community who are opposed to family violence, we all need to take a stand against it. And men, fathers, need to take a strong stand and say that we are opposed to it and we are going to do something about it. What better thing to think about on Father’s Day than how fathers (and all of us) can work to be part of the solution to family violence, rather than part of the problem.

I’m very grateful to have Dr Ree Boddé join us today as our speaker. Ree is the author of the report Nudging Anglican Parishes to Prevent Violence against Women, and has been working with the diocese of Melbourne to raise awareness about family violence but also to encourage church members to be active participants to preventing such violence.”