WRC Hosts First-ever "Take Back the Night"

By Sasha Ross | Women's Resource Center | March 2015

On Sunday, March 8, 2015, the Women’s Resource Center took a stand against sexual assault and violence of all forms, including dating rape and domestic violence, by hosting the first-ever “Take Back the Night” event in the La Sierra area of Riverside, CA. The free outdoor awareness-raising event, which was held behind the Women’s Resource Center offices (11498 Pierce Street in Riverside), began at 6PM with an information fair and rally and ended at 9PM following a peace march and candlelight prayer vigil. The aim of the event was to raise awareness about sexual assault and violence ,while also promoting the resources that are available within Riverside County to prevent and respond to sexual violence.

Approximately 110 people attended, including students and faculty from La Sierra University as well as community members from the neighborhood, teachers from area public high schools, local business owners, religious leaders, and survivors of sexual assault and violence. The event was publicized and supported by La Sierra University Church as well as more than a dozen local schools in the 92505 area, and businesses like Flowers By You in Riverside, CA.

Local service providers spoke about the contributing factors and common misperceptions of the issue, such as the idea that abuse only happens to women or that it can't happen to victims as young as 6 months or as old as age 90. Victim/survivors and educators such as Dr. James Banks, dean of the Human Services Department of the Moreno Valley Community College (MVC) focused their remarks on strategies for recovery, ranging from seeking professional counseling and professional development opportunities to help others, such as through the social work profession, to relying on prayer and building safe relationships with other victim/survivors through networking and perserverance.

Service providers also distributed information at tables, with participating representatives from Alternatives to Domestic Violence (ADV); House of Ruth; Operation SafeHouse; Path of Life Ministries; Project BLISS; the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center (RARCC); and Shelter from the Storm. Music was provided throughout the evening by guitarist and Christian music artist Kevin Straine of Red Hill Revival.

After sunset, attendees carried banners and departed on a peace march, walking as a group through the La Sierra neighborhoods where gang violence and other incidents have occurred. Local residents in the neighborhoods who had received a flyer announcing the event in the days prior came out of their homes and cheered on the group of more than 30 marchers. Slogans were chanted by the marchers, reinforcing their commitment to ending all forms of sexual violence and gender discrimination.

The event ended with a moving candlelight prayer vigil where participants shared their own stories and talked about personal dimensions of the issue of sexual assault publically, some for the first time. International students pointed out how timely and important the event was, expressing their wish that similar events could be hosted in their home countries where domestic violence and sexual assault are widespread and far more unaddressed than in the United States.

Take Back The Night events have been held in the U.S. since the 1970s in an effort to bring together those committed to ending sexual assault and supporting survivors. To date, TBTN events have been held in over 30 countries in 1,000+ locations around the world. Outcomes from past TBTN events include increased awareness about and reporting of issues like rape and domestic violence; improved national and local news coverage on sexual violence; changes in California and federal laws, including increased funding for rape kits and police training; a reduction in the causal factors and barriers to help, such as sex shaming and retaliation by perpetrators; prevention of discrimination and stigma against particularly vulnerable types of victims, such as men and the physically disabled; sensitivity-raising among law enforcement, officials and community members; and improved rates of prosecution and successful legal convictions.

Event Registration | Facebook Event Page

Miss Representation Film Screening

By Marjorie Ellenwood | Women's Resource Center | November 2013

Film Screening held for students and faculty on the campus of La Sierra University by Dr. Mary Wilson, Communications Department, at Cossintine Hall  (Rm. 100) on November 20, 2013.

Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see, and exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.

In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.

Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective. Due to the graphic nature of some of the images, this film is appropriate for high school aged students and above.

Film is written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
90 minutes | TV-14 DL

TEAM: Cultivating Ministers through a Team Effort

2013 Recipient of the WRC Brilliance Award for Excellence in Leadership
By Marjorie Ellenwood | Women’s Resource Center | November 2013

Time for Equality in Adventist Ministry (TEAM), established in Takoma Park, MD in 1988, grew out of the concerted efforts of women and men who believed that God’s calling is not exclusive to men; that women in ministry required support to flourish; and that race, social class, and gender should not prevent anyone from becoming a pastor or serving God.  
At the forefront of TEAM’s efforts was Dr. Patricia Breedlove Habada who, from TEAM’s beginning as a sub-committee of the Association of Adventist Women, envisioned an organization that would supply the Church with women in ministry and who aimed to support those women with scholarly and financial resources—ranging from scholarships for female students studying theology, religion, or ministry in Adventist institutions, to assisting advocates of women’s ordination by publishing and distributing scholarly resources discussing the validity of women’s ordination from a biblical and authentically Adventist perspective.

TEAM’s decision to give scholarships to women studying for ministry created the impetus for the Women's Ministries departments at the General Conference and NAD to start doing similar work.  TEAM’s involvement of GC and NAD personnel in reviewing the scholarship applications and making decisions about the women who would receive them, helped create that original impetus which has reaped still further benefits for women.
Over 25 years later, TEAM’s has hosted numerous conferences and special events advocating for gender equality within the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, and disbursed more than $500,000 to assist over 400 women preparing for ministry.

The Women’s Resource Center is awarding TEAM with the Brilliance Award, which recognizes extraordinary Seventh-day Adventist men and women whose personal and professional lives have improved the way that women are viewed and treated around the world. The Brilliance Award is funded this year by the Virginia Richards Cason endowment. Awards, which carry a $500 contribution to continued action by the recipient, celebrate excellence in leadership, scholarship, and service to humanity.
The legacy of Dr. Habada, whose daughter Beverly Habada now continues on in the position of executive director, is a strong one. She used innovative ideas and creative strategies, along with a strong commitment to Adventist education—having herself been an Adventist educator for over 30 years—to advocate for change and infuse TEAM with the compassion, dedication and energy needed to create opportunities for networking and building a community of people committed to gender equality.
Before heading up TEAM, Dr. Pat Habada served on the board of the Association of Adventist Women and taught in a one-room schoolroom in Pennsylvania. Prior to that, she was principal and associate superintendent of education for the Pennsylvania Conference. She developed and edited denominational curriculum for grades K-8 which was widely well-received. All who have known Dr. Habada recognize her strong relationship with Christ, and her courage, passion, and integrity for advocating for women in ministry.

View the Brilliance Award Announcement (PDF, 376 KB)

Patriarchy and Worth: The Gospel’s Challenge to an Ancient System

By Sasha Ross | Women's Resource Center | November 2013

Friends of the Women's Resource Center were treated to a special dinner and keynote speach by J. R. Daniel Kirk, associate professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Jesus Have I loved, but Paul? (Baker Academic, 2011). The benefit dinner, held on November 9th at the La Sierra University Alumni Center, marked the beginning of a new phase in the Women's Resource Center under the leadership of director Sasha Ross.

Kirk addressed the origins of the idea that men are given leadership over the home or church within the ancient world, comparing the socio-political norms of Greco-Roman history to that of the Jewish world and early Christian church. The rule of men, or “patriarchy,” was developed in a world where men were seen as superior in those things required for good leadership, things like gifting, competence, rationality, vision, and strength. This idea permeated both the Roman world and the Jewish world in which the New Testament writers inhabited, argued Kirk.

By examining this ancient context and its implications, Kirk shed light on numerous New Testament passages used to undermine women's equal participation in the community of faith, and urged participants to consider the importance of looking to our equality in Christ and the gifting of the Spirit as the only standard for determining one’s fitness to lead in the church. Kirk's presentation was followed with a response by Kendra Haloviak Valentine, associate profesor of New Testament Studies at La Sierra University's H.M.S. Richards Divinity School, situating the topic within recent events surrounding the issue of ordination without regard to gender in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.

Read more from Daniel Kirk at his blog, Storied Theology. There, he regularly engages issues of gender equality in the church. One of Daniel’s dreams is to help the church become a place where his seven-year-old daughter is never told that she may not do something due to her gender.

View Pictures from the 2013 WRC Benefit Dinner


Riverside Rape Crisis Center Speaks to La Sierra University Students

By Marjorie Ellenwood | Women's Resource Center | October 2013

The Women’s Resource Center hosted its first event of the 2013-14 academic year during the departmental assemblies held on October 8, 2013. The event focused on sexual assault and self-defense for students and faculty, bringing together nearly two dozen female students and faculty who were committed to learning more and taking action.
Debora Monroe-Heaps, the Director of Programs for the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center, began with the grim facts—that one in three women will be sexually assaulted in their adulthood, and that many people do not report being raped because they were assaulted by someone close to them—a relative or friend. While less recognized, men can also be victims of assault or other forms of intimate partner violence.
“There is no excuse and never an invitation to rape,” urged buttons printed in Spanish and English and distributed for the attendees to keep and wear.
These words encapsulated the day’s theme—an empowering call for women and men to work together to identify the warning signs and to prevent sexual assault before it happens. Educating young women to be more assertive and self-confident is the first step in this process.
Monroe-Heaps discussed the ways we as a society and as individuals can combat rape—for example by encouraging victims to come forward and seek help, such as through the Rape Crisis Center she leads in downtown Riverside; and by supporting survivors as they deal with the immediate emotional and physical aftermath of the assault and by not questioning or casting blame on the survivor.
Resources are available in Riverside for victims, their families and their friends to use, including the Rape Hotline (951-686-7273) where survivors can talk confidentially with licensed, trained counselors.
The group discussion continued into the lunch the Women’s Resource Center provided after the talk, and attendees had the opportunity to sign up for a free women’s self-defense class to be held in the women’s dormitories on the La Sierra University campus later this fall.
The assembly, held at the La Sierra University Alumni Center, was the first in a series of events this academic year that will address social issues students deal with, ranging from sexual assault and self defense to eating disorder prevention, body image, personal financial management, career development, and leadership training.

For coverage of this event in the Criterion, click here.


Join our Listserv!

Get the best of WRC events, news and announcements delivered straight to your inbox by joining our listserv and subscribing to our newsletter, Voice!
To join our e-mail listserv, click HERE.
For past issues of Voice! visit our archive.