September 26, 2014



Chris Glass, IMA Associate Director of Communications

443-547-0278 / 410-635-8743 /


Lauren Taylor, Director of Research and Development, Science, Religion, and Culture Program, HDS

617-496-9221 /


Sexual and Gender Based Violence: How do faith leaders respond?

NEW WINDSOR, MD – In June, a survey conducted for Sojourners and IMA World Health showed that a number of pastors nationwide are ill-equipped to handle and address issues of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in their congregations. On Tuesday, Sept. 30, IMA and the Science, Religion, and Culture (SRC) Program at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) will begin an important conversation on this topic through a panel discussion featuring a mix of academic researchers and faith leaders.

“Stepping to the Fore: Faith Leaders Address Sexual and Gender Based Violence” will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m, in the Sperry Room of Andover Hall at HDS.

Panelists will discuss the specific cultural, social and institutional attitudes that enable, facilitate or help combat SGBV, as well as the roles and responsibilities that faith and community leaders can assume in working with victims and survivors.

Moderators for the panel are Ahmed Ragab, the Richard T. Watson Assistant Professor of Science and Religion at HDS; and Richard Santos, an HDS alumnus and Executive Director of IMA. The panel will also feature:

  • Reverend Jedediah Mannis, Founder and Minister of Outdoor Church in Cambridge, MA
  • Mary Setterholm, Pastoral Activist with Serenity Sisters
  • Cheryl Giles, Francis Greenwood Peabody Senior Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Counseling at HDS

The first of a series of three campus-based conversations, this panel discussion is the inaugural event of a qualitative study on SGBV undertaken by SRC researchers, and funded by IMA. The study engages a number of faith communities, from different traditions, in the Boston area, to investigate the dynamics that govern how religious leaders understand and address SGBV. The study involves the design of intervention strategies and adjustable tools to provide better support for victims and survivors, and to better equip community leaders to effectively address incidents of SGBV and the cultural attitudes that enable it.


Editor’s Note:

The event will be streamed live on the web at The session will also be broadcast via live tweeting at #steppingtothefore.


About WeWillSpeakOut.US

WeWillSpeakOut.US is a movement of diverse faith groups from across the US joining together with other leaders for action and advocacy to end the silence around sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

About IMA World Health

IMA World Health believes all people are children of God and deserve to lead healthy and productive lives. Based in New Windsor, MD, its vision of health, healing, and well-being is based on the Christian call to serve one another. IMA collaborates with local, national and international partners, especially faith-based networks and organizations, to join and leverage assets, resources, knowledge and voices.

About Science, Religion, and Culture Program at HDS

The Science, Religion, and Culture Program at HDS conducts critical interdisciplinary research and convenes forums to inform public and scholarly conversations on the interaction of scientific, religious, and cultural constructs around the world.

About Harvard Divinity School

Harvard Divinity School, one of 12 degree-granting schools at Harvard University, is a nonsectarian graduate school of religious and theological studies that educates students both in the pursuit of the academic study of religion and in preparation for leadership in religious, governmental, and a wide range of service organizations.