Serving Victims' Spiritual Needs
Educational initiatives for faith-based communities can include partnerships with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and law enforcement or military chaplaincy programs. Among them are the following examples:
- Faith Community Professional Education Initiative
- Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Services
- Interfaith Training
Faith Community Professional Education Initiative
The Denver District Attorney's Office and Denver Victim Assistance and Law Enforcement Board partnered with OVC to help prepare clergy and faith-based counselors to work in crisis situations with crime victims. They teamed up with Denver Seminary to develop and pilot a core curriculum for clergy on victimization issues. The curriculum, Victim Care: Issues for Clergy and Faith-Based Counselors, is appropriate for formal academic coursework or an intensive continuing education course. The initiative disseminated the curriculum to schools of theology throughout the country for use in their existing curriculums.
Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Services
Consider chaplaincy programs through law enforcement, hospitals, or the military as an avenue to expand faith-based initiatives. For example, OVC provided a discretionary grant to the U.S. Community Chaplaincy Program in California, which developed a law enforcement-based curriculum for chaplains responding to violent crimes. OVC's Training and Technical Assistance Center may be able to provide technical assistance to SARTs that want to develop or expand faith-based initiatives.
Interfaith initiatives may fall under the umbrella of community ecumenical councils that are formed to develop greater religious unity or cooperation. For example, OVC funded a project in Denver to create a faith-based manual for pastors, priests, rabbis, lay leaders, religious counselors, and military, hospital, and prison chaplains as an elementary guide to understanding the issues confronting victims of crime.
In addition to creating Victims of Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Elder Abuse, Rape, Robbery, Assault, and Violent Death: A Manual for Clergy and Congregations, the project
- Conducts inservice training initiatives for clergy that include city and statewide training events (most recently for clergy and hospital chaplains in high-crime urban areas). The project counts among its past activities a survey of 96 religious denominations concerning the extent of their involvement in victim assistance and their interest in receiving training and workshops at national and regional denominational events.
- Assists people of all faiths and their clergy to respond to the pain of crime victimization.
- Trains clergy who minister in congregations and parishes.
- Trains clergy in specialized ministries (e.g., military, hospital and prison chaplaincy, community service ministries).
- Provides consultation and training to individual congregations and nonprofit and government agencies that want to involve the religious community in their efforts to serve crime victims.
- Shares information about resources, services, and programs in the crime victim assistance movement and crime prevention programs and activities.
- Explores with congregations avenues of ministry by which they can become involved in crime prevention and alleviate the pain of victimization.
- Provides methods for increasing participation of religious communities in crime victim services.