By Erik Alsgaard
Amid laughter, sunshine, friendly competition and fairways, several dozen golfers came together April 22 in Columbia for a tournament to raise money for a serious and worthy cause: Seeds of Security. This was the first of what organizers expect to become an annual event.
Seeds of Security, a ministry of the Baltimore-Washington Conference started by Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, is a collaboration of networks and people committed to educating, advocating, resourcing, and providing safe havens for survivors of Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence (DV/IPV). The money raised by the tournament will help provide resources for people to get to a temporary place of shelter as they “begin to figure out the next step” of their lives, the bishop said.
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, left, stand with the Rev. JW Park, superintendent of the Central Maryland District.
That support may include temporary housing in a hotel or other location, or plane tickets or bus fare to a safe place or a relative’s house, Bishop Easterling said.
“Most importantly,” she added, “it is to get them out of that hostile environment, give them a respite for a few minutes, and then help them to go on again. We’re planting seeds and helping people to be able to find peace of mind for them and their families.”
The Center for Disease Control states on its website that “Intimate partner violence is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. The term ‘intimate partner violence’ describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.”
Seeds of Security has a special place in the bishop’s heart, as she herself is a survivor of DV/IPV from a previous relationship.
“For me, as a woman who has survived domestic abuse – I am a survivor – it means a great deal to me that there are persons and resources available to help,” Bishop Easterling said.
Her husband, the Rev. Marion Easterling, an avid golfer, organized the benefit for S.O.S. after organizing golf tournament fundraisers in the past. He serves as pastor at Wesley Grove UMC in Hanover.
The Rev. Marion Easterling tees off on hole #10 during the Seeds of Security tournament.
“He thought this would be a great way to have some fun,” Bishop Easterling said, “but also to get people together doing something different. A lot of pastors might have a ‘competitive edge,’ one might say, so he said that this would be a great way to have some good holy fun.”
Golfers at the tournament were each given a white ball cap and green polo shirt adorned with the Seeds of Security logo. Along with lunch before the round, soft drinks on the cart, and dinner after, the players were well taken care of.
Marion Easterling, an 8 handicap, said he wanted to raise money for a very good cause.
“Not only is it a worthy cause to help,” he said, “to help those who can’t help themselves, but it also provided us an opportunity to come together as a conference, just before Annual Conference, to build some camaraderie and relax after Easter.”
The Revs. Stacey Cole Wilson, rear, Joan Carter-Rimbach, center, and Johnsie Cogman, forefront, pose for a group photo.
At the Annual Conference Session in May, Easterling said, a presentation will be made of the money raised at the tournament. He also thanked the many sponsors and supporters of the tournament. The special offering at the Ordination Service May 31 will also support Seeds of Security. Churches are encouraged to take up an offering before Conference that their pastor or lay member can bring to the Annual Conference Session.
The Rev. Stacey Cole Wilson, Executive Minister of Justice and Service for the BWC, served on the organizational committee for the tournament. She said the event was the first fundraiser for Seeds of Security, which will be followed by a gala banquet on April 26 to honor people who have been involved in this work for years.
Cole Wilson noted that at the recent ROCK retreat in Ocean City, one of the partners with Seeds of Security, the One Love Foundation, presented two workshops to more than 600 young people, introducing them to the signs of DM/IPV and how to help. The Seeds of Security webpage (www.bwcumc.org/ministries/abundant-health/seeds-of-security/ ) offers numerous links to resources, including bulletin inserts that local churches can use to increase awareness. The page also has links for people to apply for assistance.
“We’re looking for partners who can help in this work,” Cole Wilson said, “along with churches who might have unused parsonages. We just want to continue to bring attention to domestic violence and intimate partner violence. This is work that the church should be involved in, and is involved in. It’s a proud moment for us here in the Baltimore-Washington Conference to know that we are the church and the church extends far beyond the walls of the building.”
National Domestic Violence Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: https://www.loveisrespect.org/
National Sexual Assault Hotline: https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence: https://nrcdv.org/