The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri released Each Other’s Keeper: The Church’s Response to Violence, an electronic adult formation curriculum focused on the role of faith communities in understanding the many dimensions of violence in our society and ways in which they might care for both its victims and perpetrators. The author is the Rev. Marc D. Smith, Ph.D., Bishop’s Deputy for Violence Prevention in the diocese. His experience as a parish priest in several St. Louis neighborhoods, engagement with Michael Brown’s classmates following Brown’s murder in 2014, and care for the many in the St. Louis community touched by violence provide him with a unique pastoral perspective.
Each Other’s Keeper: The Church’s Response to Violence includes six self-contained modules, in addition to a Prologue and Epilogue:
- Violence in Scripture
- Violence in American Popular Culture
- Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis
- Youth Bullying and Suicide
- Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence
- Reconciliation and Forgiveness
The leader’s guide for each chapter follows a similar format: opening prayer; study objectives; research narrative; expert video commentary; discussion questions; additional resources; concluding prayer; and a still photograph and commentary. A PowerPoint presentation and participant handouts also are provided for each module. The electronic format allows for maximum flexibility, including the addition of new chapters. In 2021, Smith anticipates adding discussions of religious intolerance and the embrace of violence by extremist movements.
Each Other’s Keeper: The Church’s Response to Violence is offered free of charge and can be accessed at https://www.eachotherskeeper.org/. The Rev. Dr. Smith is available for interviews, as well as previewing the curriculum. For further information, please contact Janis Greenbaum, Director of Communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.