“We felt like a story slam would capture some of the artistic and urban feel which is close to the heart of our church, but also allow people to simply tell their stories,” says pastor Josh Mc Paul. 

(l. to r.) Joshua Safran, author and speaker, with his daughter; Montoya Mayo, spoken word artist; Brittany Tyler, event organizer

A story slam against domestic violence has led one church to do more to address violence against vulnerable people.

Oakland City Church in California hosted the open-mic storytelling competition. “As a church that seeks to bring people together from different socio-economic backgrounds, we see domestic violence as one of the issues that crosses all kinds of boundaries,” says pastor Josh Mc Paul.

“We felt like a story slam would capture some of the artistic and urban feel which is close to the heart of our church, but also allow people to simply tell their stories.” They posted an anonymous online form for people to share their stories, which were performed at the event.

“A friend of mine who struggled as a perpetrator of domestic violence wrote a piece that was incredibly powerful,” McPaul says. “To hear him confess and celebrate God’s forgiveness and hope at the same time was amazing.” Another striking moment was hearing a 60-year-old white woman and a young black woman tell almost the exact same story.

A mix of more than 200 church and non-church people attended the event, which raised funds for the Family Violence Appellate Project, a nonprofit that appeals legal cases on behalf of domestic violence survivors. In addition to working with FVAP, Oakland City Church is now working more closely with a shelter called A Safe Place and partners with Love Never Fails, an organization that works with victims of sex trafficking.