Under the tenure of the 26 ambassadors, the Thursdays in Black campaign for a world free from rape and violence has grown—locally, regionally, and globally.
As leaders in their community, the ambassadors demonstrated their commitment to being visible and outspoken in the Thursdays in Black movement. By standing together from many sectors and many countries, they conveyed a sense of solidarity against violence and injustice.
They led a series of Bible studies to help individuals and congregations reflect on sexual and gender-based violence, listen to the word of God, and apply their faith and vision of justice, peace, and love. They also released three joint statements that, in addition to addressing specific current challenges, called on faith communities to prevent gender-based violence in their own spaces.
Moments of gratitude—and lamentation
Rev. Dr Anders Göranzon, general secretary of the Swedish Bible Society, reflected that he had made it a routine to dress in black every Thursday even before he was asked to be an ambassador. “The experience of the reactions from people to the waterfall tapestry at the WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe was an overwhelming experience,” he said, referring to a collection of colorful panels from across the world depicting personal experiences with tragedy and hope related to gender-based violence. “From delegates and visitors' reactions I could sense that the campaign is important to more people than we maybe understand.”
Ambassador Casey Harden, World YWCA general secretary, deeply believes that the ecumenical community can be a leader in transforming power structures.
But, she added, the work must continue. “The ravage of gender-based violence seems like it will never abate,” she said. “It is often the victim, the survivor, who ends up leaving their church or their spiritual home in order to be safe, or in order to unequivocally be believed and supported.”
Ambassador Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, Geneva secretary of the World Methodist Council, expressed appreciation for learning from and with the other ambassadors—their wisdom, their passion, and their contexts. “At the same time there is work to do to detect theological arguments that justify patriarchy and gender-based violence,” she said. “The WCC is a platform where such theological reflection has to happen; we have to hold one another accountable as member churches and church traditions.”
Thank you, ambassadors
WCC deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri thanked the ambassadors for their leadership and contribution.
“You have been instrumental – in your own network and throughout the WCC fellowship – in raising the visibility of the campaign and providing a strong and prophetic voice against gender-based violence,” she said. “We are profoundly grateful for your leadership and active participation over these several years, recognizing, too, that your service as an ambassador has gone beyond the one year commitment initially envisioned, which is a testament to your convictions to work actively for a world without rape and violence.”
The WCC is now seeking nominations for potential Thursdays in Black ambassadors.
“Time and again, we see that high-profile people can amplify vital messages,” said Phiri. “Whether for health, charity or justice, people with high profile can speak through the media and their own channels to reach hundreds of thousands – and even millions – of people with life-saving, life-changing words and actions.”
Thursdays in Black Ambassadors play a vital role in increasing the impact of the collective call for a world without rape and violence, said Phiri. “By standing together from many sectors and many countries, Thursdays in Black ambassadors will convey the solidarity against violence and injustice.”
Individuals commit to participate visibly in Thursdays in Black at national, regional, or international levels for at least one year. To nominate an ambassador, please send an email to email@example.com with the name and a short description of who they are and what they would like to achieve as a Thursdays in Black ambassador.
Reflections from Thursdays in Black Ambassadors