Profiles of DV Leaders across North America

Interview Date: September, 2008

Rick is the pastor of Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church. He is also a Prevention Specialist with the Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Inc., and the Coordinator of Evolve, a Coordinated Community Response Team. Perhaps most important of all, he is the coach of Papa John’s Pizza Midgets Hockey Team. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Nancy: Tell us a little about how you initially got involved in the work of domestic violence.

Rick: I was the minister of operations and Renee was the shelter director and she said that they needed to have more men come and volunteer with an upcoming trip to the circus. I went to the training and it was on elder abuse. There I met Stephanie and because she knew I was a minister, she asked if I would like to be involved with the coordinated community team.

Nancy: I understand that you are the coach of your son’s hockey team. Are there ways that you use your skills as a coach in the work that you do with DV?

Rick: Each kid has something that they bring to the game. They are all looking to be validated. They all want to be a valuable member of the team.

Nancy: How does this insight help you to be a more effective pastor?

Rick: When we look at DV and my coaching experience, it gives me a chance to affirm kids and enables me to have good relations with the kids and also to role model with them healthy relationships. A lot of people who are victims or abusers need someone to reaffirm them, to make them whole. I am trying to role model healthy behaviour. I am doing what I am teaching.

Nancy: Does that impact your role as a dad too?

Rick: I have a daughter who is a sophomore at university and a son who is 11. I want him to be the kind of husband that I want my daughter to marry. It is so important to role model healthy behaviours. I was very blessed to grow up in a healthy home, with 3 brothers and 3 sisters and a father who modeled in the home loving relations with the way he treated my mother.

Nancy: Why do you think there is so much resistance to the issue of DV, especially in church communities?

Rick: The pastor who speaks out fears isolation from their peers. Men control the finances in the church so pastors are worried about the tithes and offerings. Some pastors are abusers themselves, maybe verbal or emotional. With the prosperity gospel, the pastor may be controlling others, including their congregations.

Nancy: Where would you like to be in the work five years from now?

Rick: At a place where there will be a team of pastors who have joined with me to educate other pastors on DV, where we are not afraid to talk about DV, to preach about DV. A lot of people don’t get it.

Nancy: Good luck in making that happen.

Rick: With all of us working together,  we can make it happen.

Nancy: Thanks so much for joining us for a latte and introducing us to the southern specialty dessert—red velvet cake.

Rev. Rick Houston
Rev. Rick Houston
The Blue Plate Coffee Shop

Durham, North Carolina