Sisters from two religious orders of the Anglican Church of Melanesia, the Community of the Sisters of the Church and the Community of the Melanesian Sisters, run the Christian Care Centre in the Solomon Islands. The latest addition to the centre is a new dormitory to shelter teenage girls escaping domestic violence. General Synod file photo

Gifts for Mission: Shelter and healing for victims of domestic violence

Owned and operated by two religious orders of women in the Solomon Islands—the Anglican Community of the Sisters of the Church and the Community of the Melanesian Sisters—the Christian Care Centre may be one of the most impactful ministries of the Anglican Church of Melanesia.

Approximately two-thirds of women in the Solomon Islands report experiencing some form of domestic violence, according to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development. Many of these women are teenage girls, a significant number of whom are pregnant.

The Christian Care Centre, once a small house in a remote area near the sea that offered security and protection for women fleeing domestic violence, has now grown to a large two-storey building complex. The centre includes a school, a playground, and a home for the sisters. Its latest addition is a dormitory specifically designed for teenage girls seeking sanctuary.

By purchasing a gift from the 2016 Gifts for Mission gift guide, Canadian Anglicans can help support the new dormitory and provide shelter and healing for victims of domestic violence. A gift of $85 will offset the costs of furnishings, from beds, chairs, and tables to curtains and coat hangers.

The impetus for the new dormitory arose from recognition of the unique needs of teen girls at the Christian Care Centre.

“It was thought that the population of girls who are teens that need sanctuary have different lives,” said Andrea Mann, director of Global Relations for the Anglican Church of Canada.

“They’re different people than the women who are in their ’30s and ’40s or older, [including] older women who are victims of elder abuse…That’s why they went ahead with trying to raise funds to build this dormitory and furnish it, and provide a place for teenagers.”

Besides offering sanctuary from physically, emotionally, and sexually abusive relationships, the Christian Care Centre provides women and children with medical and pastoral care, counselling, and hospitality.

The sisters also provide awareness training on gender justice and gender-based violence to clergy going through theological education, as well as to parishes and church groups.

The Anglican Church of Canada has a strong relationship with the Anglican Church of Melanesia, with both churches striving to help each other accomplish their respective mission priorities. Since the Christian Care Centre was identified as a new and important initiative, the Canadian Anglican church has offered assistance to the centre in its sanctuary work and its education for gender justice and raising awareness about domestic violence, in large part through annual contributions from Gifts for Mission.

Mann described such support as reflecting the third Mark of Mission: To respond to human need by loving service.

“Certainly through this gift, a person is providing shelter, providing clothing, providing emotional and pastoral counselling support to a child who has been violated, whose home ought to be a safe place, but isn’t,” she said.

“It’s another way of living into our discipleship as Christians—to follow the Marks of Mission, and certainly the third Mark of Mission would describe what the centre does [and] what the dormitory does.”

Provide shelter and healing for victims of domestic violence through Gifts for Mission.

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