Rev. Michael Blair

Rev. Michael Blair, general secretary of the General Council for The United Church of Canada. Photo: The United Church of Canada

How did you first get involved in Thursdays in Black?  

Rev. Blair: I was first introduced to the Thursdays in Black initiative while participating in a meeting in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva. Since my introduction, I’ve been an active supporter of the movement. Through my ministry over the years, I have both heard stories and witnessed the reality and the impact of gender-based violence on individuals, families and communities. Thursdays in Black provides individual, community and global platforms to raise our consciousness to the reality of gender-based violence. Not only is it an opportunity for solidarity, it is also a framework for advocacy by addressing particular expressions of gender-based violence.

The United Church of Canada has been very actively involved in Thursdays in Black for some time. What are the issues you think are particularly important for the church—perhaps particularly for churches in Canada and USA—to work on in relation to gender-based violence?

Rev. Blair: In the particular context where I live, the issues of domestic violence, missing and murdered indigenous women, sex trafficking and violence against trans persons and lesbian women are some of the ways in which discrimination, vulnerability and silence allow violence to go unchecked. The United Church of Canada and its full communion partner, the United Church of Christ (USA), are collaborating on joint advocacy to address some of the systemic practices that enable gender-based violence. Together, we hope to promote solidarity and action for justice, dignity and safety. We have invited congregations and individuals to add their voices to the global movement, and to be attentive to the issues in their particular context. We are encouraging folks not only to wear black as an act of solidarity and protest, and post their pictures on social media, but also to invest their time and energy in actively advocating for an end to rape and gender-based violence.

What gives you hope as you forge ahead in this work?

Rev. Blair: As we engage in this work, I'm hopeful that, increasingly, we see this movement as part of our discipleship to live into God's call to collaborate in the healing and transformation of the world.

In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations. You shall be called repairers of broken walls, restorers of streets with dwellings.” Let me invite you to join the movement, too!

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Thursdays in Black Ambassadors