Rev. Dr. Mary L. Walton
March is Women’s History Month
By Cora Jackson-Fossett
Sentinel Religion Editor
LAS: What is your name and what is your ministry?
MLW: My name is Rev. Dr. Mary L. Walton. The ministry I serve is for domestic violence victims, their families and their communities. It is a partnership of Interval House Crisis Centers for Victims of Domestic Violence and an extension ministry of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church.
LAS: How long have you been in this ministry and how did you get started?
MLW: In 1998, when I accepted my call to ministry, I was employed as a Clinical Social Worker for Interval House Crisis Shelters and a new member of Wesley United Methodist Church (UMC) in Long Beach, a congregation with a high percentage of single parent families and women previously in abusive marriages and relationships. It seemed like an answer to my prayers for purpose. The pastor at that time, the Rev. Cherrye Cunnigan, allotted space for counseling and support groups.
In 2000, I received funding from the State to provide domestic violence awareness, prevention and intervention in the greater LA area. The funding ended in 2005, but the program continues, supported by Interval House and donations.
LAS: What role has God or your faith played in your ministry?
MLW: When I reflect on this ministry God gave me, I view it as both theological and practical with my practical lens sharpened by many years of professional work in social service done with sacred commitment. My theological lens is that of a Black African-American child of God, womanist theological sensibilities, progressive Christian orientation, with an evangelical foundation. I see God working above me, around me, within me.
LAS: What is one of the most memorable moments during your ministry?
MLW: The most memorable moments have been the ‘Afternoon in Shalom,’ an interfaith observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We encourage people to acknowledge their silence about domestic violence; ask for God’s forgiveness and forgiveness by victims; and resolve to be transformed and reconciled by the grace of God and those who have suffered.
LAS: What are you working on now and what are some of your future goals?
MLW: Recently, my project, ‘A Faith-based African American Network for Violence Free Relationships,’ was partially funded for two years by the Blue Shield of California Foundation. Also, I hope to join with others to help create a sustainable culture of peace within our African American community and families.