Ardis Stenbakken – Loveland, Colorado … Enditnow, the Seventh-day Adventist program to stop abuse in all its forms, is listed on the world church calendar for the fourth Sabbath of August; it is observed worldwide.
When Women’s Ministries began, and even before it became a full church department, Rose Otis, the first director, chose six challenge issues women around the world face: abuse, poverty, health, illiteracy, mentoring, and workload. But in many parts of the world, no one wanted to talk about abuse, and even refused to admit that it could happen in the church.
In 2001, when all church ministry directors at the division level met with their counterparts at the General Conference to lay plans, the 13 Women’s Ministries division directors met with Ardis Stenbakken, GC WM director, to discuss what could be done about abuse. The women decided to ask the church leadership to designate a specific Sabbath as the Abuse Prevention Emphasis Sabbath. The Annual Council that year voted to place it on the world church calendar. It broke the silence. Around the world, Women’s Ministries started talking about the issue in sermons, seminars, brochures, parades, and schools, and lobbying governments.
In 2010, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), under the leadership of Chuck Sandefur, asked that ADRA partner with Women’s Ministries as abuse is a major problem that ADRA faces in its work. At that time, the name of the program was changed to enditnow. When new leadership took over ADRA, they dissolved the partnership, yet Women’s Ministries continues to promote enditnow as abuse still happens in and out of the church. In fact, statistics indicate that the numbers are about the same for the church as for society as a whole.
The Campion Church Women’s Ministries, under the leadership of Jeanette Fortner, planned and observed the enditnow worship service on Sabbath, August 6 with a special service and an afternoon seminar. This was planned in cooperation with Family Ministries, led by Sandy Eickmann.
Referring to the topic chosen for the day, Ardis Stenbakken, author of this report, said, “Almost all abuse is the result of a power issue.” The presenters were Campion Church members, Sandy Eickmann, Master of Arts, Master of Public Health, and a licensed professional counselor who worked closely for 15 years with Dawson County domestic violence in Montana and treated abuse victims; and Mark Herber, JD, managing member of the law firm of Flanders, Elsberg, Herber & Dunn, in Longmont. Mark graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice in 1997 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma in 2000. Herber has prosecuted and defended to trial criminal abuse cases in Oklahoma and Colorado courts. These two worked together presenting the abuse and power topic to Campion Academy students earlier in the year, and it was felt that church members needed to hear the same information.
Eickmann has reported that response has been very positive with such comments as, “I needed to hear this,” and “Our church needed to hear this.” One woman who was unable to attend in person, watched the service later from the church archives and reported that she “bawled all the way through,” it touched her life so directly. A non-member wrote, “I just want to thank you for the excellent presentation today. I am sure many people learned things they did not know. . . a wonderful opportunity to increase awareness.”
One young adult woman wrote to the Women’s Ministries team, “I want to thank you for being one of the coordinators of the EndItNow Sabbath at church. Today’s service was very helpful, Christ-centered, and needed in our church and community! I appreciated the clear message sent out from the church! I have seen that pretty much everyone (me included) will be/has been abused by someone at some time, and so the different types of abuse need to be talked about so people know what to do. If abuse is ignored in our church and community, super events hosted by our church and detailed sermons cannot fully reach the pain abuse has brought to people and heal it (which is, yes, ultimately, Jesus’ work).”
–Ardis Stenbakken is a member of the Campion Church; she is involved with Women’s and Family Ministries and leads Communications. Photo was by Catherine Chamberlain.