In two meetings on 27-28 October, the ambassadors shared their work and witness, welcoming two new ambassadors—Colleen Geyer and Sharon Hollis from the Uniting Church in Australia.
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, Geneva Secretary, World Methodist Council, reflected on the meeting, “Whilst many people in the member churches of the World Methodist Council are actively involved to overcome violence especially against women and girls and take part in the Thursdays in Black movement, I learn a lot by the reports from ambassadors of other churches and organizations. I am especially inspired by the systemic approaches in some of the churches to implement “Thursdays in Black”. It starts with wearing black on Thursdays and leads to uncover root causes for violence against women in misinterpretations of the bible and male dominated church traditions.”
The WCC fellowship is preparing to observe 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. From a “hackathon” to special online Bible studies, from social media posts to wider translations of Thursdays in Black resources, the ambassadors shared ideas and creative insight.
Webinars on missing and murdered women have been scheduled for 25 November and 2 December and, during the 16 Days, morning prayers at the Ecumenical Centre will explore the theme “From Awareness to Accountability.”
A waterfall of support
Ambassadors are also encouraging communities and individuals everywhere to make a powerful, international statement of their commitment to end rape and violence through contributing to a large tapestry exhibit being developed by the WCC.
The quilted tapestry will reflect a waterfall with messages and images from around the world. It will be displayed at the WCC’s 11th Assembly in 2022.
Churches Beyond Borders – comprising the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Anglican Church in Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and The Episcopal Church - have prepared daily devotions for the 16 Days around “Mary’s Song”, Luke 1:46-55. A 16 Days toolkit has also been prepared by Episcopal Relief and Development, who will hold a live event on December 1.
Finn Church Aid (FCA) is encouraging the parishes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland (ELCF) to join the campaign and become more involved in speaking out against sexual and gender-based violence. They held a Thursdays in Black webinar for parishes led by ELCF Archbishop Tapio Luoma and FCA Executive Director Jouni Hemberg, both Ambassadors.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America started an initiative to improve the experience of women in ministry, as current studies indicate that 46% of Evangelical Lutheran Church of America women in ministry have experienced harassment.
The United Church of Christ held a webinar addressing sexual and gender-based violence in the church, and announced plans to establish an anti-violence fund. The United Church of Christ is also developing a Lenten series of devotions related to Thursdays in Black.
Voices of support for Thursdays in Black continue to ring around the globe. The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland sent a photo greeting to the WCC executive committee, which is convening from 12-17 November. “Today, we support the campaign of the WCC Thursdays in Black and are wearing black,” the greeting reads. “We wish the work of WCC all the best success and may our merciful God bless you.”