My friend, Pastor Neil Schori, is an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, and yesterday, Neil preached an excellent sermon on domestic violence and the church. Kathi and I both listened to it. I believe it is the best sermon I’ve heard urging pastors to do it right, and not neglect their responsibility when it comes to domestic violence.
This is the kind of sermon that pastors and church leaders really need to hear. As Neil said in his sermon, he was not prepared for what he inadvertently got involved with as the pastor of Drew and Stacy Peterson – yes, that Drew and Stacy Peterson.
Imagine Neil’s shock when Stacy told him privately that she believed Drew killed his third wife, Kathleen Savio, making it look like her death was an accident! Drew Peterson was a police sergeant. It took amazing strength for Stacy to share this kind of information with Neil. Sadly, not long after this, Stacy was reported missing, and is presumed dead. Her body has never been found.
You might remember the rest of the story. With Neil’s information, Kathleen Savio’s case was re-opened and eventually Drew Peterson was convicted of her murder.
Since that case, Neil has been involved in ministry work helping abuse survivors, both women and men.
It is with this background that I share with you his recent sermon on domestic violence. It’s an important sermon, as it challenges the common thought that there are only two acceptable reasons for divorce. If church leaders are counseling abused spouses to go back to their abusive partners because they don’t meet the church-approved “divorce criteria,” they are contributing to the abuse by placing survivors in harm’s way. With so many church leaders mishandling domestic violence survivors, Neil exhorts church leaders to take the time and learn how to handle these difficult cases.
Pastors and church leaders must get this right. People’s lives are at stake.
If you prefer to listen to it, you can download the sermon here.