Local pastor carrying purple purse as part of effort to counter domestic violence in Johnson County

Veronica's Voice
Aaron Roberts, senior minister at Colonial United Church of Christ in Prairie Village, carried around a purple purse last week in support of Veronica’s Voice, a local organization supporting victims of human trafficking.

If you thought you saw Colonial Church minister Aaron Roberts on the town last week carrying a big purple purse, your eyes weren’t fooling you.

Roberts kept the purple purse with him Wednesday afternoon as a conversation starter. The topic? Domestic violence and, in his case, the fight against human trafficking.

Veronica’s Voice, a local organization fighting human trafficking, is one of the church’s mission partners. Roberts said Veronica’s Voice recently joined the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse program. The idea behind the program came from Lucy Bloom, executive director of Veronica’s Voice, who is passing the purple purse around to members of the community to gain interest and advocacy for their cause.

Roberts said Veronica’s Voice will hopefully be able to use the Purple Purse program as part of its fundraising efforts to fight against domestic violence in Johnson County. His congregation has worked with Veronica’s Voice for many years.

“They are one of the most effective shelters in the nation for helping women to escape from the sex trade,” Roberts said.

The Kansas City area is known as the “epicenter of human trafficking in the country,” he added.

Carrying the big purple purse around the community last week was especially timely for Roberts, since members of his congregation had joined Big Search KC to find missing children. Participants in the search travel around the metro area with pictures of the missing children in hopes of generating leads.

“They’ve done this around the country and they’ve found dozens of children that have gone missing,” Roberts said, adding that he hopes the effort will recover a lot of lost kids.

As of Monday, Big Search KC found two kids as well as leads on 26 children, Roberts said. About 300 people participated on teams throughout the metro area in the search last week.

Roberts said the mission of Veronica’s Voice is personally important for him. Recently, he has heard far too many horrific stories from victims of domestic violence.

“I’ve heard some of the most messed up things,” he said. “I’ve been a pastor for almost 15 years, and I haven’t heard anything close to what I’ve heard in the last few weeks.”

Furthermore, Veronica’s Voice as one of Colonial Church’s mission partners is particularly important for the congregation, which is working to reduce and eliminate violence against women.

“I think that is something very close to the hearts of a lot of our people,” he said. “This is a way that we can work to reduce some of that.”