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Churches Must Practice What They Preach: Halapua

Press Release On Behalf Of The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre

SUVA (11 Nov 2011) – Challenging the disparity between beliefs and practice in Christian churches is an issue that needs to be addressed, a senior clergyman said today while opening a national meeting on the elimination of violence against women.

The Anglican Bishop of Polynesia, the Most Reverend Dr Winston Halapua, was keynote speaker at the opening of the National Network Meeting on the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Suva.

“I do not pretend that the beliefs and practices of churches have always gone hand in hand,” Rev Halapua said. “However, it is my role to challenge the disparity between beliefs and practice, particularly within my own Anglican diocese with deep concern for the communities which Anglican churches serve.

“Remember while we have magiti here with all the contributions from one another, the wider society is also looking for a contribution from our magiti here.

“So it's all very well that I bring what I can, but the more important issue for me is what you do and then the larger question: You cannot do it by yourselves, I cannot do it by myself; we need to do it together beginning from the conference today.”

Rev Halapua said part of the Anglican Church’s mission statement includes seeking to transform unjust structures of society, in particular eliminating violence women and children, with change happening first within the homes of ordained leaders.

The four-day meeting organised by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre gathers some 100 delegates including representatives from the Fiji Police Force, Social Welfare Department, Legal Aid Commission, Provincial Councils as well community, disability representatives, faith-based organisations and women’s groups from diverse locations such as Taveuni, Vanua Levu, Naitasiri and Serua, and the Western Division.

The meeting is hearing from those working in the field of gender-based violence on topics such as the opportunities and challenges within the law and understanding better the shelter services available for survivors of violence.

At the end of the meeting the participants will develop strategies for the next two years to help them work in a more cohesive and effective manner in eliminating violence against women in communities across Fiji.

The meeting is supported by Australian Aid and held at Studio 6 Apartments convention centre off Waimanu Road in Suva.



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