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Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: “No longer will we stay silent”

24 October 2019

Elizabeth Eaton is presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). On 8 August, the ELCA adopted a resolution to encourage church-wide participation in the World Council of Churches Thursdays in Black campaign for a world free from rape and violence. 

What is the significance of the August resolution? 

Bishop Eaton: It was an action that said we, as church, will stand alongside our ecumenical partners working together to resist the violence and injustices that continue to threaten so many in our own communities and throughout the world. That's why I’m wearing black every Thursday, putting on my Thursdays in Black button, and making sure that I show up in solidarity and action, and I encourage you to do the same. 

This action reflects our commitment as a church to our social message on gender-based violence, where we look to the story of Tamar and her family. As a member of Christ’s body, the ELCA shares in the brokenness and judgement brought on by gender-based violence. 

How do we restore and heal?

Bishop Eaton: This church’s members are survivors and perpetrators and bystanders. Like Amnon, we have violated others. Like David, we have protected perpetrators. Like Absalom, we have silenced survivors. Like all of them, we often have created a web of isolation, shame and desolation. We also proclaim, however, that God loves us and seeks to restore and heal us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why are you proud of this commitment? 

Bishop Eaton: Like Tamar, this church is speaking against gender-based violence. This church, which like King David, has neglected to act in the past, is also beloved by God, inspired by the spirit, and called to confront this problem. This church commits itself to provide care, become educated, create accountability, and advocate. Together with the ecumenical family, this church is responding to God’s call to engage in this work as allies in the efforts to create safe and healthy communities. 

I am proud to join the chorus of supporters as a Thursdays in Black ambassador. I stand alongside other leaders throughout the world as we say “no more, no longer” will we stay silent in the face of gender-based violence and rape in our communities. Christ has liberated us to love and serve each other in prayer and action. Join me and others in the Thursdays in Black campaign as we raise our collective voices to do this work together.

To learn more about Thursdays in Black ambassadors, or to become one yourself, please contact media@wcc-coe.org.